The lines between work and home life can easily become blurred. Such lines became even more blurry during the pandemic, when many children did not attend school in person while their parents worked from home exclusively. Such situations made it hard for everyone to differentiate between working hours and family time. Prior to the pandemic, many professionals had already begun to check emails while on vacation, while others fielded questions from the office on sick days. Stress comes with the territory for many working professionals, and that stress has the potential to trickle down into family life if parents are not careful.
According to the Australian Psychological Society’s Stress and Well-being Report, 31% of people cite work as a leading cause of stress. In addition, 92% of all serious work-related mental health condition claims were attributed to mental stress. The Anxiety Disorders Association of America indicates 40% of people experience persistent stress or excessive anxiety in their daily lives, much of which is attributed to work. Each profession has its share of stress-inducing situations, and no parent wants to bring work-related stress home at the end of a long day at the office.
The following are a handful of strategies parents can embrace as they try to keep work-related stress from affecting their home life.
Create a buffer zone. Heading straight home with stressful problems still on your mind may result in taking those problems out on the family. If you repeatedly leave work feeling stress or anxiety, build in an opportunity to unwind between work and home. Consider heading to the gym for an hour or taking a walk in a park to calm down. Make sure children and your spouse realize this decompression time is about ensuring stress does not come home with you at the end of the day.
Create a routine for disconnecting. If you go home directly after work, create a system to calm down and unwind there. Sena Moran, a Florida-based mental health counselor, suggests mindful breathing, listening to relaxing music or some other activity that creates a system for disconnecting from work.
Turn off notifications. When you’re home, focus on home and avoid work. That may require turning off work email notifications on your phone or putting a company laptop away and out of sight.
Build more exercise into your day. A study by researchers at the University of Florida found participants who took at least 10,900 steps each day were less likely to take out stress on family members compared to participants who took only 7,000 steps. Exercise can help reduce stress and releases feel-good endorphins. Exercise paired with adequate sleep can improve self-regulation skills.
Try a new job. While not an answer for everyone, moving on to a new career or even a different position can tame work-related stress and help improve relationships at home. Some people find scaling back hours may help them find balance as well.
Stress at work doesn’t have to come home at the end of each day. Various strategies can ensure stress stays at the office.