Stress can be positive or negative. When stress sparks personal achievement or life enjoyment and appreciation (positive stress), it helps us feel enthusiastic, creative, productive and motivated. But stress can easily spiral out of control, becoming overwhelming and negative distress, taking its toll on our physical, mental and emotional health and well-being.
Stress can lead to specific physical, mental and emotional symptoms. According to the American Psychological Association, 43% of adults suffer adverse health effects from stress, and 75 to 90 % of all visits to a primary health care facility are stress related. Juggling professional life, educational or self-development needs, family schedules, financial challenges, career advancement, child- and elder-care concerns, are only a few of our common stress triggers.
WHAT IS WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
One hundred percent balance between work and the rest of our lives is not realistically possible but you can try to get as close to a perfect balance as possible. The top stress complaints I regularly encounter are family or marital problems, deadlines, work-related stress, fatigue and a sense that life seems unsatisfactory and unbalanced – a pervading feeling of ‘is this all there is?’.
The good news is that radical lifestyle changes aren’t required. Standing back, trying to see the bigger picture, then making one or two small, personally strategic changes are often all that’s necessary.
WHY DO WE NEED THIS BALANCE?
When considering the dimensions of our ideal lives, we must include the physical body; the mental body or intellect; the emotional body; the soul body (related to life meaning and purpose); the occupational or work dimension; the social dimension of interaction with others and groups and also the environmental dimension, where we form part of a bigger picture from communities to the natural, global and universal environment. To remain in healthy and happy balance we have to allocate enough time to each of these dimensions. As soon as one is out of balance, the scale tips and we become overwhelmed and distressed.
MEN AND WOMEN
Most illnesses and ailments have an underlying current of long-term stress at the source. Women’s stresses differ to men’s. Women often feel harassed from trying to balance work and family, feeling stressed if either one suffers. Most women regard themselves as successful only if they have a good family and career life. Men, on the other hand, will feel good about themselves even if only their careers are going well. Working mothers whether married or single, face higher stress levels than men in the workplace as well as at home.