The traditional 9-to-5 work lifestyle is long gone. For many of us, it’s not unusual to stay at the office until 7 or 8, or to work on a freelance job, startup idea, or extra project. Even if your company promotes a healthy work-life balance, your workload may get out-of-control busy at some point and you’ll simply need to bring work home in the evenings or over the weekend.
This new reality of never truly being off the clock can send your stress levels off the charts if you let it. Stress is dangerous as it can wreak havoc in your life. It can negatively affect your body. It can cause muscle pain, headache, low libido, fatigue, sleep problems, and digestive problems. It also causes restlessness, anxiety, irritability, and depression. Stress can adversely alter your behavior — it can lead to angry outbursts, overeating, alcohol and drug abuse, social withdrawal, and weight changes. So, if you don’t stop bringing work stress home, you are at huge risk of damaging or even destroying your relationships.
However, there are ways to make it less painful. It’s all about sticking to boundaries so that when you do need to bring the work home, you can at least leave the stress back at the office.
Here are some ways to stop bringing work stress home and keep your home life happy and stress-free:
- Create some space
Designate a workspace at home for those late nights. This can be anywhere you have access to a flat surface and adequate lighting that allows you to concentrate—a desk, your kitchen table, a reading chair, just not your bed! This helps your mind and body understand when you’re in working mode and allows you to more effectively transition to “home” mode when you’re done.
- Know when to call it a day
Pick a non-negotiable time to put away all your work—and stick to it. For many people, 9 or 10 PM is a great cut off time to stow away all devices before bed. Whichever hour you settle on, it should allow you to transition into relaxation and get enough sleep so that you’re rested enough to be productive the next day. Before you go to sleep, carve out a short amount of time for yourself and read or watch a TV show to unwind and get your mind off the work and transition into relaxation.
Just as you and the people you live with have discussed logistics like who’s in charge of sending the rent check each month, it’s crucial to sort out your need for working from home as well. How quiet do you need your living space to be? Can you handle, “Hey, did you do the laundry?” or “Can you believe what my boyfriend said!?” interruptions? Having good, open communication with your roommates, significant other, or family around your work needs is key. After all, not only do you want to get your work done, you also want to be sure you’re keeping your home a happy place.
- Release the negative work-related thoughts
Once you step out of your office, you must make a conscious decision to release your nagging work-related thoughts and focus on your family. Practicing a visualization technique is a great way to stop bringing work stress home. It strengthens your power over your mind. It helps you relax and refuel after a long and tiring day at work. It also deepens your awareness of your feelings and thoughts.
After you go out of the office, stay in your car or somewhere you can be alone for a while. Make yourself comfortable. Take a deep breath and then close your eyes. Imagine that you are on a beach and that you’re burying your toes in the sand. Imagine that you’re holding a freshly squeezed juice in your hand. Imagine that you are calm, relaxed, smiling, and happy. Then envision a bright white light beaming through your head, taking away all your work-related thoughts.
- Take time to appreciate the little things
While you are driving or commuting on your way home, take your time to appreciate everything. Make your daily trips from work to home an opportunity to enjoy all the beauty around you. Take time to appreciate the trees, the people, and all the other beautiful things that you see on your way home. This strategy is a great way to stop bringing work stress home.
- Have a mantra
Each time you feel like you’re bringing your work stress home again, say a mantra that will help ground you. You can make up your own mantra. For example, you can say something like: “Work is already consuming me and I will not allow my work stress to destroy my relationships.” or “My family is more important than my work. I can always find another job, but my family is irreplaceable.”
- Learn to say no
You have a limit so if you want to keep stress at bay, you must respect your limits and learn to say no. You must remember that it is okay to say no. Saying no does not mean that you are not committed to your job. It just means that you prioritize more important things like your happiness, sanity, health, and family. Learn to prioritize your tasks and incorporate personal time into your daily schedule. Find time to do the things you love and focus on activities that you are truly passionate about. The thing is, the more you say yes to tasks at work, the fuller your plate will be. And that will only cause you more stress and pressure in the office, which can cause you to bring work-related stress home.
- Work hard, play hard
All work and no play can be harmful for you and the people around you. So, in order to stop bringing work stress home, you must maintain a healthy work-life balance. Exercise and hone your time management skills by making sure that you spend enough time for your family, your friends, and yourself. Do not let work consume you.