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Find Your Work-Life Balance, No Magic Needed

How to Detach From Work

Achieving work-life balance can sometimes feel like chasing unicorns or finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow -- mythical, magical, unreal, unattainable.

But setting some clear expectations and cutting yourself a little bit of slack can help stave off stress -- no pixie dust required.

Stress is sometimes inevitable, but it becomes unavoidable if you set unreasonable expectations for yourself. Instead, make sure your to-do list for each day is manageable, with the most important tasks making their way to the top of the list and the unessential ones not making the list at all.

If you're struggling to cross off everything on your list, ask for help.

That goes for home as well as work. If you don't have enough time to mow the lawn, go to the grocery store, do the laundry and make dinner, ask for help. Just as work should be a team environment, home should, too, with everyone pitching in.

Asking for help also is a key form of communication, which can keep stress at bay. Make sure you're communicating effectively with your boss, your coworkers, your family. Yes, we know, sometimes that can be difficult (especially when there are teenagers in the equation), but it's worth it. When everyone is on the same page, whether it's the office project or the family chore list, there is less chance for things to go wrong. And, more importantly, communicating expectations, as well as areas of strength and weakness, means there is less reason for you to get angry and derail your ability to accomplish all that needs to be done.

Procrastination will only add to your stress, or worse, keep you at the office extra hours, which means the elusive balance will slip even further away. Instead of putting off tasks, reward yourself when you get them done. Small treats throughout the day -- a five-minute walk around the block, a trip to the neighborhood coffee shop -- can break up the day, while also keeping you on point.

Such breaks in the workday pay dividends by letting you step away from a project for a few minutes to clear your head. You'll come back to the work refreshed, and might even see an answer you couldn't before.

If possible, seek some flexibility. Employers recognize the value of flex time and the advantages to letting employees occasionally work from home. Research has found employees are more productive and happier when they are given such options.

Work-Life Balance at Home

On the homefront, experts say the first step to achieving work-life balance is to disconnect from your devices. Smartphones and laptops make work possible from anywhere, but that doesn't mean you have to work everywhere. There is a difference between being available when needed and feeling chained to your phone on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

A sunny Saturday afternoon, after all, is much better for a bike ride or a hike than a conference call. And the activity will be good for you. Exercise helps relieve stress and makes you feel great.

Eating right can help, too. No one can live by pizza and burgers alone. Healthy meals and snacks, chock full of veggies, lean protein and whole grains, can be just the boost your body and mind need; as can a good night's rest, so don't skimp on sleep, either.

Just cut yourself some slack, set realistic expectations

Perhaps the most important thing you can do is cut yourself a little slack. You're not Superman or Wonder Woman, so stop expecting to be able to leap tall buildings or outrun speeding trains.

These and more great work-life balance tips can be found from Mental Health America.

We at Foundations would love to help you find the equation that takes work-life balance out of the fairy tales and into your life. Our team of amazing counselors is here to help. Call us today for your free consultation .