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Tips for Workaholics: 7 Ways to Create a Work-Life Balance that Keeps You Sane

Stop letting your job leach into your social life. Use this expert advice to create a state of equilibrium.
Tips for Workaholics: 7 Ways to Create a Work-Life Balance that Keeps You Sane

The term workaholic generally has a fairly positive connotation, describing someone who’s driven to achieve, always wants the work to be better...right?

Wrong. A workaholic is a person with a psychological addiction, according to new Norwegian research published in PLOS One.

Using standard psychological protocols, the researchers surveyed more than 16,000 online respondents over six months and found that those who met the criteria for “workaholic” also met the criteria for ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder), OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), anxiety disorders, and/or depression much more often than non-workaholics.

In short: Go home! 

But that's easier said than done. "Because technology continues to morph and make all of us so available, we find it harder to disconnect from work, allowing our professional pursuits to creep into our Saturdays," says Karen Elizaga, executive coach, founder of Forward Options, and author of Find Your Sweet Spot: A Guide to Personal and Professional Excellence.

"Maintaining a good balance between taking care of your personal needs and delivering the goods at work is key for your long-term satisfaction," she adds. Keep reading for her top tips.

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"This may not seem intuitive, but the food choices you make directly affect your mindset," Elizaga says. It's true; there are foods that can beat stress and reduce anxiety and those that can boost your brain health. Eating clean, healthy food can help you have mental clarity and zero in on your work, rather than feeling drained and unproductive. This way you can do what you need to get done during your 9-to-5 and walk out accomplished. 

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"In the same way good fuel powers a clear mind, an exercised body will enhance your focus and give you the energy you need to maneuver through the day—especially when you start the morning with a jolt of exercise," Elizaga says. There are tons of beneficial side effects of working out (some weirder than others). Aside from building a killer bod and bettering your health, you boost energy and efficiency so all cylinders fire optimally. "Also, choose exercise that leaves you feeling powerful and exhilarated," Elizaga says. 

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"With everything we have access to electronically and technologically, it's incredibly easy to try to multitask," Elizaga says. "The ability to multitask, though, is a myth, as the human brain can only house one conscious thought at a time," she adds. Research from the American Psychological Association shows your productivity decreases by up to 40 percent when you juggle more than one task. Have too much to tackle at work and at home? Prioritize your responsibilities and do them in order, Elizaga suggests. When you do this, you're able to maintain focuse and stay organized. 

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"When you stay balanced at work—meaning you operate in a reasonable and productive way—you fend off emotional outbursts and arguments in the office, the kind that tend to accompany you, even when your miles away from the workplace," Elizaga says. "When you find yourself getting aggravated at a colleague or a particularly difficult situation, breathe deeply; it's been shown to decrease cortisol, the hormone that governs stress," she says. Not only will this keep you more productive at work, you'll be calmer at home. 

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"Whether it’s exercise, drinks with your buddies, or date night, book it in your calendar and honor these events as you would any meeting with an important colleague or client," Elizaga says. "This way, you ensure the fun stuff in your life is a priority, balancing out all the hard work you do," she explains. If you don't put effort into managing your social life, your friends and hobbies can fall to the wayside. 

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"Being connected—whether on a dating app, social media, or just reading the latest news—keeps your mind busy, oftentimes unnecessarily so, and it can throw you out of whack," Elizaga says. A timeout can be incredibly beneficial for diminishing stress. Decompress and "designate, say, 30 minutes to set your phone and computer aside so you can go outside," Elizaga suggests.  

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"Think of balance as a verb, not a noun," Elizaga says. It's always changing and evolving, just like your life is. You need to continually assess your own sense of balance. Ask yourself, Elizaga suggests: "Are you incorporating all the things you want do? Are you letting go of what you don’t?" There's only so many hours in a day. So, spend them the way you want to be using them, rather than getting sucked into obligations that tire you out.

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