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    Does your heart sink when you hear your cellphone's ominous "ping" while you're cooking dinner or trying to get the kids to bed?

    For many, that innocent-sounding beep often signals yet another work email or text that requires immediate attention -- after office hours. If that sounds just a tad familiar and the very thought is giving you palpitations, take a deep breath. You're not alone. 

    A study of 57,000 people uncovered that more than half worked beyond their regular hours. Thanks to smartphones and computer tablets, "work" is no longer contained to an office and the business day often starts earlier than 9 and ends later than 5.

    While in some cases it's made life easier to have your desk virtually at your fingertips, it may also be making you sick. 

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    My children just returned to school last week. Normally I'd write something like, "Strike up the Hallelujah Chorus!" but from the moment they burst through the door at 3 p.m. on their first day, I've been inundated with information about their upcoming back-to-school nights. Seriously, there's been such an influx of forms and documents for me to sign, it's like tax season all up in here!

    My oldest child just started seventh grade, yet we're drowning in more paperwork than I received from the college I attended. Ever. That's including the 4 years I spent there and the 20 since I graduated. And I'm even taking into account their bounty-hunter-style alumni association, which could ferret a donation out of someone living in yurt in a third world country.

    Please, school district, I've only just recovered from the scavenger hunt/practical joke that has become my family's own week-long Amazing Race: finding school supplies. Cut me some slack! 

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    Everyone strives to achieve some semblance of work-life balance, but thanks to the blessing/curse that are our electronic devices (er, leashes), it can be harder and harder to disconnect and focus on the world beyond your career.

    "The irony of prioritizing a work-life balance is that it's incredibly hard to do when you're in the headspace of having no balance," says life and career coach Caitlin Graham of Unapologetic Coaching. "It's almost impossible to get a clear picture of what's really important when you're feeling overwhelmed and stressed out." 

    Graham suggests making a list of activities that "are crucial to making you feel like a person and living what you consider a full, fulfilled life, on a daily basis." She says the best time to do this is when you're on vacation so you're not susceptible to feeling like everything on your to-do list is pressing. 

    Here are 5 tricks to getting that work-life balance you so desperately crave.

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    If you're in your mid-30s and feel like you've never been more stressed in your entire life, you’re probably right.

    The combination of juggling kids, a relationship, and a career while trying to stay on top of expenses and manage a household is causing stress levels in some women to hit their absolute peak smack in the middle of their fourth decade. According to a new study of 2,000 British women, 34 is the age at which they felt the most harried, whereas just nine years prior, at age 25, women felt the most carefree

    Well, as my 9-year-old likes to say, "Duh." Sure, at 25 you may have "stress," as in, "Oh no! My roommate ate all my yogurt and used all my laundry detergent!" or "What should I wear to happy hour this week?"

    But, let's be honest, that can't hold a candle to the stressors that come with being a mom. 

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    I went for a mile jog on Tuesday.  Back when I was a single gal, in my early 20s, I took it upon myself to start running.  I was newly 21, weak and 'skinny-fat' and recovering from a few years of what might be defined as a 'risky lifestyle' (boyfriend with questionable business associates, depression, and self destruction -- maybe I'll share more about that some other time).  

    I was trying my best to keep myself together, working several jobs and living in a 1930's garage apartment behind a cat lady quilter. She made some seriously amazing artful quilts, that lady.  Like a silhouette of that famous John Travolta Saturday Night Fever arm shooting into the air pose in brightly colored contrasting printed fabrics, or even better -- the one she called "Cleopatra Drinks Tea," which was a scene of cats having a tea party, one of them donning a Cleopatra head piece.

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    The following is a post from our sponsor, Simple.

    I feel like I’ve been on auto-pilot most of my life as a mom. I’ve had things so meticulously scheduled that I could get a boy to his baseball practice and his sister to her tutor, in opposite directions, within minutes of each other. I’ve had a chicken breast baking in the oven while watching a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ceremony at school. I’ve juggled jobs and sports and homework and done it all while trying to be the best mother and wife I can be. I’ve done okay, I know I have, but along the way, I haven’t always taken as good care of myself as I should have.

    My structured little life was full of way too much stress. I hate to admit that simply spinning around in circles or rushing from activity to activity would wreak havoc in my heart. That it would make my pulse pound faster than my spinning head and that maybe, just maybe, I should take a break.

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    I have a little confession to make, since I'm (mostly) all about keeping it real up in here. You see, I really, really love food. Like, ridiculously love food. You know the saying, "some people eat to live and others live to eat"? I don't even understand that first group. People that say they're so busy they forgot to eat? They might as well be speaking Greek. Mmmm, Greek yogurt. Wait, what?

    Anyway, not only do I love to eat, but I'm a stress eater. This one time in college, a friend said she always got really skinny after a breakup, because she couldn't eat when she was sad. I was all -- but, but, but ... ice cream!

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    Biggest Loser host, longtime (soon to be former) Days of Our Lives star, and mom of two Alison Sweeney knows firsthand how hard it can be to juggle all of her everyday commitments and lead a healthy lifestyle. That's just one of the major reasons she recently partnered with Aetna as a spokesperson for their "What's Your Healthy?" survey, which looked at 1,800 responses from adults aged 25 to 64. While many of the findings point to info we've heard time and again, others were definitely surprising and shed light on how we can all lead more fit, fulfilling lives.

    Ali recently took a time-out from her busy schedule to chat with us about her take on the survey and share a few inspiring tips for her fellow moms and anyone aiming to be healthier ...

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    Mita Diran was a baby -- just 24 -- when she slipped into a coma this week and died, shortly after spending days awake and relying on something called Thai Red Bull just so she could work more. The Indonesian woman was a copywriter at a major ad agency in her country and proudly Tweeted about her commitment to work in the days and weeks leading up to her death. Her last Tweet, which she sent on December 14, read: "30 hours of working and still going strooong." Hers is the story of a sad, terrible waste of a young, talented life.

    But Mita's work habits are probably not that far off from many of our own. And this heartbreaking story should serve as a wake-up call for some of us.

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    This family better not expect anything other than coal this Christmas. There are many things people argue about during the holidays: who cooks, who visits, what kind of gifts to give. But this may be a first. Three relatives in South Carolina got into a brawl for the most ridiculous reason imaginable: the Christmas tree.

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