7 Surprising Stress Relievers That Keep Your Life in Balance

By PAUL SAMUELS on MARCH 21, 2015

You may have read a hundred articles on stress relief and work life/home life balance. Well, this is not another one of those articles. I’d like to approach the issue from a different perspective. Experts indicate that if you can balance your career and your home life, then you will be less stressed. An added bonus is that you are less likely to suffer career burnout. Are you searching for that elusive balance?

When you think about balance, think of a seesaw. A seesaw is a long board with a seat on either end. It is anchored in the middle so that it can pivot. The ends alternate up and down, but the board never falls because it is firmly anchored. It is this strong anchor that allows the board to balance.

You know there will be ups and downs in life. There will also be good days and bad days at work. You need a strong anchor to help maintain balance in your life. It is this anchor that helps you determine the direction you want your life to take. It’s this anchor that will help you deal with stressing events that push your life off course.

Here are some surprising stress relievers that will help you anchor your life and stay engaged in your career.

  1. Eat Right
  2. Eat Right

    You’ve probably heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow’s pyramid reflects basic needs that must be met before you can reach your full potential. Among these basic requirements are food, water, and sleep. If your basic needs are not met you are going to have increased stress in your life.

    Think about what you do to yourself. For example, if you eat a candy bar at 3:00 PM you’ll get a quick sugar rush that will last about 20 minutes. Then you’ll crash and drag through the rest of the workday. Your diet affects your work performance. Be on the lookout for these types of diet issues. They’re sure to slow you down and fog your brain.

    Start by being mindful of what goes into your body. Be sure your alcohol consumption is moderate. Practice portion control and strive for a balanced diet. You can’t pursue balance if your body is not properly nourished.

  3. Sleep Well
  4. Sleep Well

    Do you fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow? If you fall asleep within 5 minutes or less, this is an indicator of sleep deprivation. Sleep is as essential as food and water. You can’t stay up past midnight and expect to function well on your job the next day.

    Sleep affects your physical and mental health. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep. If you don’t meet this need your judgment, reaction time, and ability to concentrate are impaired. And you can’t sleep in on Saturday to make up for lost sleep. Recent studies reveal it takes several weeks to recoup even a small sleep deficit.

    Slip in a little nap if you get drowsy. As Maslow pointed out, you can’t reach for higher goals if your body is holding you back. Be aware of the power of sleep. Sleep affects our physical and mental health. It’s a surprising stress reliever you can’t do without.

  5. Exercise
  6. Exercise

    Physical activity is a great stress reliever. But, you don’t have to get a gym membership and start pumping iron. Get out of the office at lunch and walk around the city. Try 5 minutes of fast walking and then do five minutes at your regular pace. Repeat. Work your way up until you can continue this pace for 30 minutes. If you do this same thing for a couple of 15-minute breaks, you’ve just squeezed a full hour of heart healthy exercise into your work day!

    Exercise triggers endorphins. Those are the “feel good” brain chemicals. High levels of endorphins enhance our immune response, help keep our appetites under control, and decrease the negative effects of stress. That’s a pretty huge payoff!

    So sneak in a little exercise during your workday. Encourage others to join you in walking, biking, jazzercise or some other form of exercise. Find a physical activity you enjoy and do it often. Or, take a clandestine approach to exercise. Take the stairs a few times a day. Park further from the building and start your walk from the parking lot. Exercise will strengthen your body and spirit. It will help you cope with the everyday stressors of life. It’s a surprising stress reliever that should become a lifelong habit.

  7. Enjoy the Earth
  8. Enjoy Outdoors

    How long has it been since you sat on a park bench and just enjoyed nature? Spending time outdoors has a way of recharging your batteries. It’s important that you find time to “commune with nature” on a regular basis. For many, it’s a time for meditation and reflection. Getting outdoors seems to automatically bring stress relief.

    Use this time to consider your life—the positive things you have accomplished and the great things you have yet to do. Like Ferris Bueller said in the iconic movie, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Be sure you take some time to sit in the sunshine and ponder.

    And speaking of sunshine, have you been feeling tired and blue lately? Low levels of Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, may be to blame. Vitamin D is thought to boost serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a brain chemical that is associated with mood. Vitamin D is generated by the skin after exposure to sunlight. So get outside and soak it up! Sunshine is another surprising stress reliever that we need to maintain our physical and mental health.

  9. Enjoy Music and Art
  10. Music is a surprising stress reliever.

    Another surprising stress reliever is found in the arts. Listening to good music or seeing a classic work of art, is good for you. This concept is much more important than you might realize. It has a tremendous impact on your life. When you enjoy a museum, an art presentation, or sit down and listen to classical music it naturally relieves stress.

    It does this because the activity triggers the reward centers in our brain to flood with dopamine. This brain chemical gives us a natural “high.” That’s certainly going to make you feel better! So listen to Bach tonight as you are getting ready for bed. It will help you wind down, relax, and sleep better.

    Can music increase productivity at work? Listening to music not only helps you get through boring tasks, but it can help you complete routine tasks faster and with fewer errors. This is why many surgeons listen to music while operating. Give it a try! Music might improve your performance, too.

  11. Spend Time with Positive People
  12. Positive Business People

    Have you ever caught a cold or the flu from someone at the office? It’s irritating, but when you are in close proximity to others this is bound to happen. Did you know that you can also be infected with a negative attitude?

    Negativity spreads like a virus. It’s contagious! One way to avoid it is to avoid close association with negative people. Negativity erodes your self-confidence and increases your stress level. Don’t spend time with people who tear you down or are critical of your career.

    Make time for people who are positive. Positive people tend to make more money, get promotions faster, and live longer. Spend time with people who inspire you to be a better person. This surprising stress reliever is good for your image and for your self-esteem.

  13. Help Your Fellowman
  14. Help Your Fellowman

    Nothing keeps you more balanced than reaching out to others. I can’t stress the importance of this activity. Whether you choose to volunteer at a soup kitchen or just assist a friend in need, reach out and help someone every day.

    Service brings a sense of joy that spreads to others around you. Knowing you have made a positive difference in the world conveys a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Service to others brings a confidence and calmness that helps you better cope with the stresses you yourself have to deal with.

    The old scout adage “Do a good turn daily,” turns out to be a surprising stress reliever. Service doesn’t have to be a complicated commitment. It can be something as simple as donating old clothes or helping a friend move. The next time you see someone in need, step up and give service a try. It’ll be good for you!

Surprising Stress Relievers

Building a strong body and mind will help you achieve balance in your life. These 7 activities are tried and true choices that will help you form a stronger anchor. They are sure to reduce stress in your life and help you build inner strength.

Remember a long journey begins with a single step. Start by choosing one of these surprising stress relievers and add one more each week. Your goal is to be a healthy and happy person. You want to have the inner power required to deal with stressors that push your life out of balance.

I wish you success in your career, and in your pursuit of balance and growth.

The Author

Straight from the desk of

Paul Samuels

Paul Samuels

Executive Vice President

Paul began his career with Kimmel & Associates in 1987 and holds the distinction of being one of the most senior consultants in the company.

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