Keeping Work Stress at Work
Keeping work stress separate from our personal relationships, home life, and general wellbeing is often easier said than done. With over 25% of our week dedicated to the 9-5 it can be difficult to make the switch from the 'professional' you to just you. We're here to offer guidance on the top tips for keeping work stress where it belongs - at work.
Boundaries can be difficult and awkward, and creating them can be very daunting - especially if you work remotely. Having constant connection through our phones and laptops means that we can be contacted halfway through dinner, at the gym, or even as we're drifting off to sleep. One of the easiest and most important things to do is set work hours on your emails and messaging services, or if you have a work phone, lock it in a drawer. Leaving an Out of Office message after you clock off on weekdays will let people know that this is your time, and it needs to be respected.
The rewards of working long hours are few and far between; staying late is a thankless task, especially if no one is around to see it. Whether you're in an office or working remotely, make sure you set regular office hours, and stick to them. Much like our bedtime, our brains begin to associate different times of the day with different levels of activity, and if you can't carve out a clear working routine you'll find yourself taking a while to switch on in the mornings and a long time trying to switch off at night. Schedule regular breaks into your calendar to create much needed space that will benefit both your emotional wellbeing as well as your productivity later on in the day.
Another dragon to slay is space; if you commute into an office, monk Shunmyo Masuno advises those living in a fast paced world to change perspective on the journey to work. Assign 'gateways' between work and your house, and train yourself to transition from 'Work' You to 'You' You between these gates. This can be anything from a lamppost you pass on the way to the train station, the train itself, or the doors of your office. Once you walk through these gateways you separate the professional from the personal, and with it you leave any stress from work behind.
Working from home makes gateways a little trickier, so it is key to separate your workspace from a space you enjoy; for instance, do not work at the dining table, in bed, or on the sofa. If you have the room, carve out a space in your home for a desk, and try to keep all productivity in this realm. By doing so, your mind can make the switch between work and play a little easier through simple associations with space.
Along the same vein as Masuno's gateways between work and home, finding an activity, playlist, or ritual that is completely different to what you've just been doing for 8+ hours in the office will help your brain make the connection that it's time to wind down, as well as provide a welcome stimulus away from whatever problems you've been working on all day. Some great activities are:
Kick-boxing (or anything that is painful enough to remind you that work really isn't that bad in comparison)
Reading (take a look at our reading list for some ideas)
Your loved ones are there to make you feel loved, and vice versa. If you're really struggling with something at work, don't take it out on them, but talk it out with them. More than anyone our friends and family want us to feel good, and of course they always do, so curl up on the sofa with a blanket, a glass of wine, a family member/friend/partner, and take a moment to savour how lovely it is to have so many great people around who help our worries melt away.
Find a Third Zone
No matter how hard you try, bringing problems home can sometimes be inevitable - especially if your home is busy with children or other things that take your attention away from your own wellbeing. Finding a third space (that isn't the commute) such as a fitness class, a cafe, or a friend's house, is a good way to recharge so that when you get home it becomes the sanctuary it is meant to be, rather than collateral damage.
Do you have any tips on keeping work stress at work? We'd love to hear from you; please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss any of your own tips and tricks for managing stress.