On A High-Wire Balancing Work and Family? Tips for Staying Stress Free

animated balancing act

Your body is naturally programmed to respond to threats. Your brain floods your body with hormones like adrenaline and cortisol to raise your heart rate and increase your glucose level. Once a threat passes, hormone levels are supposed to return to normal.

In modern times, the “fight or flight” response can remain triggered for a much longer period of time. Our bodies respond to stresses like work deadlines and the demands of caring for a family which, unlike life-threatening stress, tend to carry on for a much longer period of time. Unfortunately, chronic exposure to stress hormones is detrimental to your mental and physical health. Issues like heart disease, lack of concentration, weight gain, frequent colds, moodiness, depression, digestive disorders, and even tumors can creep up on you.

With the demands of work and family, what can you do to minimize your stress and stay healthy, for everyone’s sake?

Take Care Of Your Body

Everyone has heard the fundamentals like eating well, and getting enough exercise and sleep. What are the basic guidelines? The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity. While there is no clear one-size-fits all recommendation for sleep, the average adult tends to needs of about seven to eight hours of sleep each night. If you’re not getting that amount, think about giving yourself a bedtime that allows enough hours before you need to start your morning. Also reduce caffeine intake in the afternoon, remove electronics from the bedroom, and keep your bedroom at a cooler temperature.

Once you have the basics, step it up a notch. The healing powers of water have been recognized around the world for centuries, from the ancient Egyptians to the Japanese. When kids are small, bath time is a great part of their nightly routine to wind down the day. Hydrotherapy uses temperature and pressure for therapeutic purposes, so consider taking a warm bath, or even relaxing in a hot tub regularly to stay stress free. If this sounds like a good idea to you, begin your search online at a store like Hottubworks.com.


Between smart phones, TVs and computers, most of us are wired 24 hours a day. Constant electronic bombardment adds to your stress level, so consider going completely tech-free for one day a week. If that is not possible, put all technology away for at least an hour each day — say, before and after family dinner time — and focus on being present with the people around you.

Ready to step it up a notch? Consider meditating to increase focus and reduce anxiety. To get started, read through these 20 Practical Tips for Quieting the Mind and begin a regular meditation practice: Share what you are doing with your children and teach them meditation skills that will help them thrive as they grow up.

Build a Community & Laugh

The Harvard Grant Study, one of the longest running longitudinal studies, found a powerful correlation between the quality of your relationships and your health and happiness in old age. Having resilience increases your capacity to deal with stress, and resilience is boosted by a supportive community. Reach out to neighbors by hosting a happy hour, smile at parents of your children’s friends, and keep in touch with your extended family.

Ready to step it up a notch? You probably know from parenting that laughter provides quick stress relief to a tense situation. Being goofy trumps being grumpy to diffuse a tiff over who gets to play with that specific toy. Laughter also has longer-term benefits like improving your immune system, relieving pain, and helping to connect with others. Look up a few funny jokes to have in your pocket, and consider enrolling in a comedy class to develop your humor.

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