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These days, we have a lot on our plate. You might have a spouse, children, and a job; you might care for a parent, make brownies for school, run a household and juggle your graduate program. You are standing on a balance beam on one foot, juggling ten different balls and if one ball falls out of place, the entire show collapses. Sometimes you need to step away from the balance beam and admit that there are too many balls in the air. Making good choices and managing your life is important in maintaining long term success in your education, career, and health.

The Balancing Act

Balance is key when it comes to succeeding in multiple areas of your life. Job satisfaction and well-being have been linked to the spillover between roles at work and in family life (Morganson, Litano, & O’Neill, 2014). There are many ways to create this balance and ensure a smooth work/family life transition. Instead of focusing on how these roles deplete you, focus on the positive and how much they add to your life. The work-family affect is when your participation at work leads to positive attitudes which you take home and develop into a happy family environment. These positive emotions, such as being optimistic, increase your chances of finding creative ways for you to be successful in the future (Morganson, et al, 2014).

Struggles and hardship are bound to occur, so it is equally important to develop coping strategies proactively prior to a conflict, as conflict, like positivity, can spread from school to work to family life. There are many different coping techniques for this such as putting your negative thoughts in perspective, positive imagery, scheduling time to address negative thoughts or restructuring your day (Morganson, et al, 2014). If you have a difficult class, set aside a few hours each day to focus on your assignments with little family or work interruption. Before you get to work, vision yourself completing your paper or acing your quiz. Once you are done with work or your class, cultivate balance by focusing entirely on your family and “turning off” the other roles for the evening.

Take Responsibility for You

As you age and have more responsibilities, it is important to take ownership of your life. Only you have the ability to recognize the signs of stress within you and make the proactive choice to change. There are many programs offered by schools and also employers that encourage you to track your human resources to improve your health and happiness by making good decisions. One specific program encourages people to first accept they have a problem with stress. Admit you are a “yes” person and might volunteer to lead a field trip for your child the same day you have a work deadline and a paper due for school. Second, daily routines are mapped and you are encouraged to reflect on your behavior and decision making related to your routine. Set goals in the area of work, private life, self and education (Maravelias, 2011). Maybe take one class at a time or take frequent breaks in between classes, or only volunteer in your child’s classroom for holiday events. This approach tends to work better than someone commanding you to exercise more, change your schedule and take better care of yourself. We have a responsibility to create a healthy lifestyle and need to motivate ourselves to lead a less stressful life or it can lead to harmful consequences.

When the Stress is Too Much

It is important to listen to your body’s signs of stress to know when you need to take a step back or say no to adding additional life stressors. We each have our own unique physical signs of stress such as shoulder tension, migraines or stomach aches. Stress has been found to cause numerous health problems in general. Stress can cause obesity, digestive disorders and irritable bowel syndrome (Graham, Christian, & Kiecolt-Glaser, 2006). The most common cause of migraine headaches are emotional stresses like anxiety, worry and depression (Wacogne, Lacoste, Gullibert, Hugues, & Lunne, 2003). Do not wait until your body is reacting negatively to stress to make a change, do so proactively.

Prevent Burn Out

While self-care is a commonly known topic, stress, along with burnout and poor work life balance, are all concepts that are rarely discussed proactively and typically brought up as an afterthought. These issues all result as a lack of self-care. Instead of reacting to stress, Bamonti, et al (2014) argue that students need to take preventative measures before it is too late. Recognize that it can be tough to juggle the demands as a student, that there are ways to promote success and wellness at school and that there are often resources available to students such as counseling services, social events and peer mentors (Bamonti, et al, 2014). Ask what’s available at your school, make good choices about your work-life balance and use your resources to establish and maintain your health and lower your stress.

By: Lexy Maculaitis

Get help or find out more

Bamonti, P. M., Keelan, C. M., Larson, N., Mentrikoski, J. M., Randall, C. L., Sly, S. K., Travers, R. M., & McNeil, D. M. (2014). Promoting Ethical Behavior by Cultivating a Culture of Self-Care During Graduate Training: A Call to Action. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 8(4), 253-260.

Graham, J. E., Christian, L. M., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. (2006). Stress, age, and immune function: Toward a lifespan approach. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 29(4), 389-400.

Maravelias, Christian. (2011). The Managementization of Everyday Life- Work Place Health Promotion and the Management of Self-Managing Employees. Ephemera Articles 11(2), 105-1124.

Wacogne, C., Lacoste, J. P., Guillibert, E., Hugues, F. C., & Jeunne, C. (2003). Stress, anxiety, depression and migraine. Cephalagia, 23(6),451-455.

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