The Joy Factor
You can start to add joy and minimize stress by doing what Ynes and her sister have done. Decide which people and activities are truly important to you. Make a list of your priorities, such as spending time with your partner, taking care of your health, traveling, following a passion or pursuing spiritual interests; then organize them into A, B and C categories, depending on their importance. You might be surprised when things you thought were important, like getting a promotion or buying more stuff, end up in the C category.
Now, you may not be able to quit your job so you can bake bread from scratch every day or cycle across Europe. But you can focus on your A list and develop a plan to incorporate these pleasurable pursuits into your life. Keep in mind that "play time" doesn't have to be a big event that's inked into your day planner; spontaneity is often half the fun.
Even small doses add up. "We need to learn how to take little fun breaks," May says. "I think it's sad when a day goes away and you haven't had some fun." So spend time before dinner hanging out with the kids or a few minutes throughout the day joking with co-workers. If you're faced with another meeting in a stuffy conference room, suggest a "walk and talk" session outside.
Finally, when you do take some of your hard-earned and much-needed vacation time, don't leave a techno trail: Keep your laptop and pager at home and turn your cellphone off. You'll survive, and so will your office. And that's OK.