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Peo­ple aren’t as good at con­trol­ling when to go to bed be­cause they’re not lis­ten­ing to their bod­ies.’ HE­LENA COOP­ERTHOMAS, RIGHT

cor­po­rate ca­reer left her feel­ing empty on the in­side.

‘‘I wanted to be a per­fec­tion­ist, the best ath­lete, the best em­ployee, the best aunty, I just wanted to give all I could to the peo­ple around me,’’ Joe says. ‘‘I was on the ham­ster wheel, I had ev­ery­thing but felt shal­low.’’

Start­ing as an ac­coun­tant for Price Water­house 23 years ago, Joe moved through sev­eral ar­eas of the busi­ness world, even­tu­ally work­ing for New Zealand Post in var­i­ous roles for nine years.

Her fi­nal job, as a prod­uct man­ager, was un­be­liev­ably tax­ing, she says. She wanted to prove her­self to her boss so she worked 60 to 80 hours a week for three years.

‘‘Part of it was say­ing yes to ev­ery­one,’’ she re­calls. ‘‘I thought hav­ing a high-pow­ered cor­po­rate job was suc­cess but if I re­ally knew my­self bet­ter and what I wanted in­trin­si­cally, and that was to have a healthy mind, then I would’ve said no and not given in to so­cial pres­sures.’’

Joe thought her thresh­old was pretty high un­til she had a men­tal break­down that left her seek­ing pro­fes­sional help.

The way em­ploy­ees recharge af­ter work is cru­cial to help­ing the body and mind re­cover af­ter a long day on the grind, says Pro­fes­sor Cooper-Thomas.

For some that might be veg­e­tat­ing in front of the TV, do­ing hob­bies that use their hands, colour­ing-in books, gar­den­ing, pot­tery. Divert­ing fo­cus from work. For some peo­ple it might be learn­ing a new lan­guage or danc­ing.

Ear­lier this year Amer­i­can re­searchers found a di­rect link be­tween deep breath­ing and keep­ing calm.

Stan­ford Univer­sity sci­en­tists per­formed ex­per­i­ments on mice brains, re­mov­ing neu­rons that con­trol sighs and short breaths, sim­i­lar to those in hu­mans, and found that when mice were forced to take deeper breaths they were calmer.

So be­fore book­ing your flights to Bali and em­bark­ing on an ex­pen­sive self-dis­cov­ery jour­ney, the start of a more blended work and per­sonal life is re­mem­ber­ing to stay in the present.

Take a breath.

A doc­tor told Omar Ibrahim, above, that over­work would kill him, while lana Joe, left, hated be­ing on the ‘‘ham­ster wheel’’.

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