Balancing the Stress of Summer, Work, and Family

Summer can be a time of year for feelings of defeat. The adults are still working and the children have nothing but free time. This can be a time for mischief for the children if not planned carefully. Summer camp schedules often do not coincide with work hours and can be costly. You have planned your vacation but have to wait until the last month of the summer to actually use your time. And you are now a part of the "sandwich" generation – you are taking care of your parents and your children. This level of stress goes against your ideal lifestyle and you have no plan as to how you will handle all of these things. You are missing out on all of the "fun stuff" in life and you are missing deadlines at work. Life is coming really fast and you can’t keep up; the stress is overwhelming and both your supervisor and family are beginning to complain. How can you reduce your stress level and be successful at work and home?

There are several combined strategies that one could use to improve life at work and home while lowering stress levels without relying on drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, or overeating.

Strategy One: Figure Out the top 10 Most Important Things in Your Life

Ask yourself the question, "If I could focus on one thing and one thing only, what would that be? If I could add a second thing, what would that be (and so forth)?" This is an example of a typical list:

  • Children
  • Spouse
  • Satisfying Career
  • Community Service
  • Religion/Spirituality
  • Health
  • Sports
  • Art
  • Hobbies
  • Adventure/Travel

Help decrease your stress level by answering some of these questions when making your list:

  • How well is your child-care arrangement working?
  • Is your relationship with your partner or spouse fulfilling?
  • Do you like the job you have now or the career path you have chosen?
  • Are you still searching for spiritual answers or for a place of worship?
  • Have you had at least a physical this year?
  • Did you take a vacation away from your usual chaos? Do you have a life outside of work?

Strategy Two: Protect Your Time

Set manageable goals each day at work and at home, this will help you stay in control of your time, do not over commit and be flexible as possible. Make a "Task" list and prioritize the events by urgency. Review your list at the end of the day move the less urgent items to the next day. This does not mean you should wait until everything is urgent to complete.

If you feel overwhelmed take a walk, go outside and get some fresh air. Also, communicate with your supervisor and family. Your supervisor can often help you with prioritizing your task list and summer schedule if you need time to make sure your children are with a reliable caretaker Sometimes communicating with your supervisor is the first step to taming your schedule.

On the other hand, some supervisors feel that your dedication means that you can handle an excessive workload. This is not always the case. Moreover, your family might be more accommodating or willing to help around the house more if they know that you are struggling.

Give your family and yourself undivided time, turn off your PDA. Being connected to the "world" all the time can also burn you out. You have to teach others and yourself how to respect your personal time.

Strategy Three: Plan Fun Activities and Take Care of Your Body

Fun, relaxation, and good health go "hand in hand." These three things can set you up for a life of "wellness." You should be a part of the summer cookout at work and take some time to socialize. Your job is not always about "the work." A mentally healthy work environment can counter work stress.

When you are home with your family, participate in or create traditions that are fun for everyone in your home; movie night, taco night, or bowling. The summer vacation does not have to be extravagant, maybe a couple of extended weekends will help.

Taking care of you self mentally as well as physically can really cut down on stress also. Make sure that you get at least 6-8 hours of sleep, eat balanced meals three times a day, exercise, and if you are in a happy dedicated relationship, have sex often.

Sex, and what is known as traditional exercise, have the same affect on the body. Both sex and exercise simply make life better and have the same effect. Sexual stimulation floods your body with endorphins, which are natural painkillers that can sometimes make you feel euphoric providing a natural high while easing pain. If you’re suffering from menstrual cramps, migraines, or arthritis, lovemaking just might bring relief.

Sex is also a powerful sleep aid and a buffer against anxiety and depression. A good workout, whether lovemaking or power walking, can boost your level of serotonin, a brain chemical that is linked to mood and change your outlook on the day Who would have thought "hated exercise" and "pleasurable sex" could have the same affect!

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Nicole Daniels
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