Conducting business happens not only within the hours of an average business day, but starts the very moment you open your eyes, and usually extends for hours past your arrival back home. With the constant contactability due to smart-phones, which allow emails to flood through 24 hours a day, as well as messages from colleagues and clients, down-time/home-time/time-out are now considered an impossible luxury.

Without time away from your work, your mind and body cannot relax and renew themselves, causing innumerable problems and escalating stress levels. Don’t forget that you still need a bit of “me time” every now and then!

Stress, despite its typically negative definition, can positively drive you to maintain focused, alert and full of energy during the work-day. Our stress response enables us to meet those specific challenges that require super-concentration and sustained motivation. There’s no point in working late every day for a week to perfect a pitch for funding or business, just to lose points on the fact that you can’t concentrate when you get there!

However, when stress becomes a habit you just can’t switch off from, the damaging effects on all aspects of your life can be irreversible. Think heart-attacks, high blood-pressure, fatigue, detrimentally decreased productivity, relationship breakdowns, as well as extreme and constant anxiety which can result in depression.
Do you recognize any of these symptoms of stress affecting your life?

– Constant anxiety/worrying and racing thoughts
– Poor judgment and impaired concentration
– Sleeplessness (caused by an overactive, worrying mind)
– Hypersomnia (oversleeping, for example, from extreme fatigue)
– Feelings of being overwhelmed/no longer coping with your work load
– Low mood and/irritability
– Stomach problems, rapid heartbeat, chest pains, frequency of flu and colds
– Decreased libido

Medical professionals prescribe the following stress-relieving, life-balancing actions to take:

Get healthy! Exercise regularly – focusing especially on your cardiovascular to get your mood-enhancing endorphins pumping. This will improve your general sense of well-being, provide your body with good hormones to combat stress (endorphins as opposed to adrenaline and cortisol) and get your brain back in top form!

Increase water intake, decrease use of stimulating caffeine and ‘relaxing’ alcohol

Eat often and little. Avoid turning to sugary snacks for a temporary energy kick, and rather increase the amount of vegetables, fruit, low-GI carbs and healthy proteins in your diet.

Take time out to regain your inner equilibrium: rediscover reading the old-fashioned way, learn meditation or take up a new past-time/hobby that requires a complete shift in focus away from work, and also satisfies a long-neglected curiosity for something like photography or sculpture.

Schedule time to invest in relationships: Spending time with loved ones is so much more critical in the maintenance of the work/life balance than we realize. Our ambition to succeed in business can blind us from seeing relationships as perhaps life’s highest priority. Sometimes it is necessary to actually schedule time to spend with family and friends, whether it’s a coffee date, dinner for two, a big family celebration or an exciting holiday abroad.

The only catch, and the very reason why stress overload occurs in the first place, is the seemingly insurmountable absence of time. One of the most efficient and money-saving strategies in reclaiming time is to hire a virtual assistant. Delegating time-guzzling tasks such as billing and payments, travel arrangements and scheduling meetings, for instance, will free up hours of your time where you are now empowered to create that critical – and priceless — balance between work, relationships and your health.

Whether it means you can finally make use of your gym contract, or book that surprise Greek sailing holiday for your family, outsourcing to a virtual assistant could be the best cover-all stress-buster for you yet!