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After a long day at work, many of us can be forgiven for bringing our stress home – whether it be frustration at a project that isn’t going to plan, a difficult client, a mountainous workload or a clash with a co-worker.
With greater workplace flexibility, a shift towards remote working arrangements and increasing expectations to always be ‘on’, the distinction between work and home has become increasingly blurred, allowing our workplace stresses to impact our home lives.
As common as this is, taking your workplace stress out on your family and friends has a detrimental effect on your relationships, which then impacts your health and wellbeing. Fortunately there are things you can do to keep work issues at work, rather than creeping ‘home’.
It can be challenging to go straight from a tense meeting or hectic workday to suddenly being at home where you’re expected to be present with other family members. This can be especially tricky if you have young children, who won’t understand that you are grumpy from work, rather than angry at them.
Have a ritual that will transition you from work to home mode. Perhaps this is riding your bike to and from work so you can decompress, or lining up an upbeat music playlist for your journey. Would a quick stop-off at the gym help you blow off steam, or if you have a dog, can you take them for a walk as soon as you finish up to get some fresh air? Even a change of clothes can help you switch gears.
You may need to explain this to those you live with, such as a partner or kids – they might not immediately understand that you need some time out in order to be more present, so be open with them about how it will help.
You may be expected to check your emails and be reachable at all hours of the day, but as much as possible, set boundaries with work. It’s hard to unwind when you’re always working, so develop healthy habits when it comes to checking your email and phone.
Depending on your work situation, try to establish what time you can be reached up until so that you can be present with your loved ones and enjoy your extracurricular activities.
Pursuing your hobbies and interests aren’t just important for your own mental and physical health; they can also have a ripple effect at reducing stress within your household, as you will be more relaxed and happier. Making time for your own enjoyment can fall to the end of your to-do list, so prioritise this time to take care of yourself.
That boxing or HIIT class can use up some of your adrenaline, or walking with a friend can give you the opportunity to socialise and exercise. Cooking, painting or DIY can provide a creative outlet that keeps your hands busy, while getting out into nature can help you decompress and put your worries into perspective.
According to Safe Work Australia, 92% of serious work-related mental health condition claims were attributed to mental stress, with 21% due to work pressure.i
While we can’t eradicate stress entirely, we can improve how we respond to it. As well as developing your own healthy habits, it’s worth cultivating a support network. This may come in the form of selected friends and family you can openly talk to about work pressures, or a more formal arrangement with a mentor, life coach or counsellor.
Being able to express what you’re going through can help remove the weight of the situation from your shoulders. We all deal with work stress from time to time, but if you are feeling overwhelmed or finding it hard to balance your job with your home life, reach out to get a helping hand.