October 3, 2014

Work stressing you out? Find out why less is more.

Most of the people I work with in my practice have come in at some point with high levels of stress. They are experiencing the kind of stress that makes it hard to sleep at night, that causes them to have trouble focusing, or to feel agitated and short tempered with people they love. It is the kind of stress that makes them question what is wrong with their lives, but then feel too exhausted to do anything about it.

Many of them are drained by demanding jobs that they spend a lot of their waking hours thinking about. Often, they even take work home. These are smart, hardworking, successful people. But, they have had the joy sucked out of their lives by the time they come to see me. 

I talk with them about creating more balance in their lives. This means working less, and getting back to things in their personal lives that they value and that energize them. In general I recommend that they leave work by a designated time every night, and do not take work home. It sounds so simple, but the suggestion is usually met with surprise and fear. These folks have strong work ethics and they believe they have been successful in their lives because they have worked so hard. And besides, what will their boss say when they start leaving earlier or not answering e-mail right away? 

When things are not working in your life, try doing something differently. I challenge my clients to try setting boundaries at work for one week and see how it feels to them. It is wonderful to see them come back the following week. Often there is a lightness in their demeanor, and a smile on their faces. You can physically see their burden has been lightened. They are working fewer hours, but they have more energy which usually translated into working more efficiently. And it almost always translates into enjoying their lives more. 

If you are feeling stressed out, overworked, or overwhelmed, I recommend you review your life and see where you can start setting boundaries. Cut out things that are less essential. Add back things that you do to take care of yourself, and things that energize you. It may seem paradoxical, but by working fewer hours, you will often accomplish more and enjoy your life more. This is definitely one of those cases where less is more!

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