Do you find that work stress invades the rest of your life, including your physical, mental, and emotional health, relationships, and overall quality of life?
If so, you’re certainly not alone.
A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study found 40 percent of workers said their job was very or extremely stressful and 25 percent view their jobs as the main stressor in their lives, with the American Psychological Association finding that job stress tends to come from co-worker tension, assignment overload, and poor management.
According to the World Health Organization, stress occurs in a wide range of work circumstances but is often made worse when employees feel they have little support from supervisors and colleagues, as well as little control over work processes.
This type of ongoing, chronic stress can negatively affect your body and immune system, says the American Institute of Stress, and nearly 77 percent of survey respondents cite experiencing physical symptoms of stress.
It can also look like this:
- yelling at your kids
- being short with your spouse
- feeling beyond drained
- feeling resentful once you’re home with your family, with “more chores to take care of”
- not making time to spend with your friends or family because you just don’t have the energy
- feeling like you’re just barely holding it together
- dragging yourself from one task to another
- your default state feeling irritable, frustrated, easily angered, scattered, and distracted
If this is you, recovering from your current situation can feel insurmountable (in fact, you may very well benefit from contacting a qualified mental health professional in your area). However, small steps can still bring benefit over time.
Below are 10 simple strategies you can implement to begin separating your work life and home life, better allowing you to leave work stress where it belongs.
Before You Leave Work
Spend an extra 10 minutes on these tasks to set yourself up for the following day:
- List the tasks you will accomplish tomorrow. Don’t overload your schedule. Give yourself some cushion to take into account the inevitable emergency that will demand some of your attention.
- Block two 15-minute periods on tomorrow’s calendar. You are now unavailable during this time. During this time, get up and take a walk, get away from your desk. Have a snack. Anything that allows you some distance from your tasks at hand.
- Use affirmations. Before you leave your work area, say aloud to yourself “It’s time to leave. Work will be here tomorrow, and I will bring my full attention to it then. I am finished giving it my attention for today.”
Now it’s time to go home.
During the Transition Home
You’ve left work – that’s great! Now it’s time to focus on marking the transition home, and finding ways for this process to be more enjoyable. Consider some of the following options:
- Listen to a specific playlist or podcast during your commute. If you do not have to control your mode of transportation, you could also consider a guided meditation during this time.
- Try walking, cycling, or public transportation home to burn some energy in transit.
- Stop for an errand you would enjoy completing.
- Take a walk around the block before you enter your home.
Once You’re At Home
This is the time you’ve been waiting for — the chance to be with your family or other loved ones, or simply have your own personal time when work is not monopolizing your thoughts and energy. Implement these strategies to intentionally transition into your personal space.
- Use affirmations. Take three deep breaths at your doorway. Say aloud to yourself, “I am home now. I will bring my full attention to what waits for me here. Work is back at work. I will bring my focus to it tomorrow.”
- Do your best not to complain about work. Discuss other topics with those you talk to.
- Stay off work email. Don’t invite more work stress into your home.
Try out some of these for a week, and see if you notice a chance. Are you feeling or acting different?
If you’re looking for strategies to reduce work stress in the moment, check out “Finding Balance When Work Stress Has You Down.”