Control your life, don't let it control you

One of the surest ways to feeling stressed out is the sense that the walls are caving in on you. Rather than being in control of your life, your life is controlling you. You feel like a prisoner with no way out in sight.

Those who report feeling this way tend to have too much on their plate. A job that requires ridiculous hours. A spouse and kids. Community service activities. A rigorous exercise routine. And so forth.

While packing as much as we can into our schedule certainly prevents life from getting boring, we need to leave ourselves a bit of breathing room. Studies show that stress leads to negative health outcomes like headaches and heart disease. What's more, it may lead to coping mechanisms that can also be disadvantageous to one's health, like overeating, smoking, drinking, or taking illegal drugs.

Once you feel as though there's not enough time in the day to do a single thing you enjoy doing for leisure -- read a book, watch a show, listen to music -- it should serve as a wake-up call: Unless you dial it back a little, you're going to burn out.

Make arrangements in advance so that you can give yourself some "me" time. Cut back your hours at work. Leave the kids with the in-laws for a few hours. Skip the gym one day.

Unless you find ways to better organize your time, you'll always feel stretched. Taking a break once in a while is vital to your physical and mental health. Even a thirty-minute every couple of hours will leave you feeling more energized.

As busy and fast-paced as your life may be, it's no excuse to skip out on short breaks. Don't let life overwhelm you. Remain in control by being proactive and not biting off more than you can chew. A little relaxation time here and there can make the difference between a good day and a lousy one.

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