Many of the biggest workplace challenges facing women today still revolve around gender. Why do women still earn less than men holding the same job? Will the glass ceiling ever be reached or for that matter shattered? Is a balance between family and career attainable? What will it take to establish a work environment where gender is a non-issue? So many factors have dominated the women's workforce for many decades. Over the years, even though women have long yearned to be in the workplace, some of their choices have not come without disappointment.

Choosing to work is simply just that; a choice based upon each individual's needs and wants. As women don heels or flats, and jump into mini vans or convertibles, they all too often are faced with the critical realities of work life balance. Whether there is a family of children involved or not, women everywhere must work out all aspects of their lives to ensure that everyone emerges a winner. Here are some startling facts.

• There has been a substantial increase in work over the past twenty-five years, which could be caused by information technology and by an intense, competitive work environment.
• Many Americans are experiencing burnout due to overwork and increased stress on the job or at home.
• Over the past decade the evidence of an unhealthy work life balance is seen in a rise in workplace violence and an increase in absenteeism as well as rising workers' compensation claims.
• Employee assistance professionals say there are many causes for this situation ranging from personal ambition and the pressure of family obligations.
• Many top corporate executives are leaving their current positions to pursue other opportunities including working from home and starting their own businesses.
• Women are more prone to stress related illnesses due to the conflict between work and family.
Stress and Work Life Balance
There is no doubt that the workplace has contributed greatly to one of the greatest source of stress facing both men and women today. The number of stress-related disability claims by American employees has doubled according to the Employee Assistance Professionals Association in Arlington, Virginia. They claim that seventy-five to ninety percent of physician visits are related to stress. According to the American Institute of Stress, the cost to the health industry has been estimated at $200 billion-$300 billion a year.
How Will You Know If You Are Stressed?
Studies show that persistent stress can result in serious health problems. If you are experiencing health issues you may need to consult with your doctor. This could be signs that your job is getting the best of you. My own personal journey for balance helped me make my decision a few years ago when I decided to take a break from a stressful work environment. This led me to write my first book on work life balance. After working more than fifty five hours each week, as well as driving to work for ninety minutes each day, I was on the brink of a burnout physically and emotionally. My breaking point came when my four year old son started school. My two year old stayed home with my mom so that I could go to work. We also were in the middle of transitioning from Boston to Florida and at the same time I was embarking upon a different career path. I started to realize that time was slipping by oh so quickly, and that I was gone way too early in the morning to even have breakfast with my children. I began to realize that I also needed time to transition and sort myself and my priorities out. I felt that my only option was to quit my well paying job at that time; something that I'd never done before!
Symptoms of stress may be manifested both physiologically and psychologically. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, chances are that you may have allowed your energy to evaporate.
• Cardiovascular issues arise.
• Problems with sex occur.
• Your immune system becomes weaker.
• You start having frequent headaches.
• You develop stiff muscles.
• Backaches are persistent.
• Poor coping skills develop.
• You become irritable and unpleasant.
• You begin to develop insecurities.
• You are exhausted quite frequently.
• You have difficulty concentrating.
• Unhealthy eating habits including binge eating arise.
• You start smoking.
• You start consuming excessive amounts of alcohol.
• Hopelessness and lack of desire start to set in.

Author's Bio: 

Charmaine Augustin lived in Boston for fifteen years before moving to Georgia in 2004, where she resides with her husband Bruno and their three children, Samuel, Jacob and Nathaniel. After working as an Assistant Vice President in Branch Banking in Boston for 7 years and as Marketing Director in Health and Wellness for a year, she decided to find balance and re-evaluate her own life, when she took time off to write her first book “Nine to Five or Something Like That—Finding Work Life Balance and Fulfillment for Women”. She then went back into the workforce as a Bank Manager, and along with her speaking engagements and writing she continues to balance work/ life. She is the Founder and CEO of Lifestyles and Trends LLC., a coaching and Lifestyles Company that is foremost on balance in our lives. She enjoys traveling, writing, throwing parties, baking homemade cookies and spending quality time with family and friends. She is a Motivational/ Inspirational Speaker, a member of the Georgia Coach Association, School Council Chairperson, and a featured article writer who finds time to co-manage their family-run Limousine Company as well. Her second book "Pit Bulls in Lipstick" is due out the Fall of 2009. She is available for speaking engagements and personal life coaching, and can be reached at or or by calling (678) 891-9859.