Have you ever gotten home from work and spent the rest of the evening continuing to answer work emails, check texts, and do minor tasks for your job? Or just sat and worried about something that was going on at work?
Not having a good dividing line between your home and work lives can add stress and anxiety to your life and damage family relationships. Here are some tips for learning how to leave work at work and destress during your downtime.
If You Have a Commute, Mindfully Use it to Create Space
If you have time in the car or on the subway while commuting between your work and home, purposefully use it to create a barrier between your work and home life. If there’s something from your workday that’s bothering you, give it the last of its time for the day and then, with intention, release it until you are back at work the next day.
Create Rituals Meant to Tell Your Brain to Shift Gears
Sometimes our brains need help shifting gears and refocusing. You can help your brain learn when it’s time to change from work thoughts to being fully present in your home life by creating rituals. This can be as simple as playing upbeat music and singing along in the car. It could be some physical exercise, which will have the added benefit of helping you blow off work-related steam and settling down. You could take a shower or just change into “home clothes” when you get back from work. Maybe it means you spend a few moments of alone time meditating, reading a book, or working on a puzzle before you jump back into family life.
Let Your Family Know What You Need
If you need something specific from your family to help you change gears from work to home life, let them know what it is clearly and kindly. For instance, if you need to have fifteen minutes to yourself before they start asking you about your day or telling you about theirs, let them know. Then, be sure to stick to the deal—take your fifteen minutes and then do your best to be fully present for them after that time.
As Much as Possible, Don’t Respond to Work Stuff at Home
For some jobs, you must be available to a certain extent even while you’re home. However, many people stretch that line and make themselves more accessible than they need to be. Evaluate what your job requirements are for being available outside work hours and eliminate all other availability. You can do this by:
- Not checking texts or emails
- Removing reminder alerts from your phone so you don’t hear a ping every time someone sends something
- Setting limits for how often you check and respond to work messages each day
Limit How Much Work Talk Goes on at Home
Of course, it’s okay to share tidbits of your day with your family but place a healthy limit on how much time you spend talking about work at home. As much as possible, be fully present and involved with home life and leave most work drama or discussion at the door.
What if You Work from Home?
This situation can create serious issues with building the mental (and physical) space you need to separate your work and home lives. It’s super easy for people who work from home to have difficulty keeping one area of their life out of the other, and they often have work spilling into personal life and vice versa.
If possible, have your home office in a separate room so you can close the door. When you’re done working for the day or for a while, close the door. You can still use rituals as described above to help your brain transition from work to home life.