Health + WellnessLifestyle

Lower stress and perfect your work/life balance in 2014

by Jen Smith


Lowering stress and achieving a healthy work/life balance is a goal for many people these days; wanting to work to live, not live to work. So how can you do this? Here are some ideas to help you lower your stress levels and achieve a balance that suits you.

Identify the causes of stress

Identifying what is causing your stress is a good first step. Just becoming aware of exactly what the problem is will make things clearer, and open up steps for how to tackle it.

  • Take some time out to write a list, identifying the causes of stress in your life so you can see exactly what is going on. Don’t censor yourself; what you write may surprise you.
  • Next to each item on your list, write down one solution.
  • Prioritise the solutions according to their importance to you, and make a point of implementing one solution each week. To start with, it could be as simple as turning your work phone off when you leave the office. Small changes can have a big impact.

Saying no and exercising boundaries

It is important to be able to filter some of the requests and activities that come your way, both at work and home, and one of the best ways to do this is to say no more often and exercise boundaries – where possible. This will allow you more time to focus on what is important to you, and helps to reduce the stress that comes from saying yes to things because you feel obligated or don’t know how to turn down the request.

Being intentional about how you use your time and what you commit to will help you to feel more in control of your life, while making healthier choices that are right for you. Saying no can be difficult, especially if you are not used to doing it, but with practice, it is a powerful tool in gaining control over your life.

  • Practice saying no and exercising boundaries around your time. Start with smaller or easier situations and build up your confidence. It will become easier over time. You could also practice with a friend or colleague that you trust, if it feels tricky to start with.
  • Don’t commit to requests for your time on the spot. Let the other person know you will check your schedule and get back to them. This makes it easier to say no to things that you can’t or don’t want to do, to say yes to the things you really want to do, or to offer a compromise if that is the best solution. Taking your time before committing will take the pressure off you and allow you to be intentional about what you commit to.
  • Start using the time you free up for enjoyable pastimes that lower your stress, rather than add to it.

Practice stress reduction

Stress can get on top of you if you are not taking steps to reduce it on a regular basis, and more importantly, in healthy ways. What reduces stress may vary from person to person, but here are a few ideas:

  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Spending time in nature
  • Journaling
  • Painting
  • Gardening

Make sure you dedicate time regularly to healthy stress-reduction activities, and remind yourself that you’re worth it.


Be mindful

Stress levels often become raised when you are not living in the present moment; either due to being in a state of anticipation of what is going to happen in the future, or living in the past, going over what has happened previously. Practice bringing yourself back to the present moment. Spend some time each day just ‘being’. Even just spending five quiet minutes while you have your morning drink, and focusing completely on the experience, is an opportunity to stop the constant activity and be mindful. Being able to step out of the habit of constant ‘doing’ is important in gaining control over stress levels.

Ask for help

It is often the mistaken belief that you have to do it all, or do it all alone, that adds to stress levels and puts your work/life balance out of kilter. Think about the following:

  • Which areas of your life can you identify where you could ask for more support? Where could you delegate?
  • Do you need further specialist support? It is a sign of strength to be able to identify when we need help, and to be able to ask for it.

Change perspective

‘If you can’t change a situation, change how you look at it’ is a mantra we have all heard, and one that can be useful when dealing with stress.

Changing the way you look at a situation can be a powerful means to gaining control over it, and feeling more empowered. Do what you can to be proactive about stress, but also look for opportunities to see what is going on from a different perspective.

Jen Smith is a Kent-based life coach, mentor and writer. Jen helps people around the world to clarify what is important to them, achieve their goals, and live life on their terms.


You can book your FREE coaching consultation and request your free eBook today, at www.jenmsmith.comFor further information, contact Jen on 07731 999 474 or at



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