One of the most common causes of stress, that my clients often speak about, is bringing work home with them. When you carry a lot of responsibility, for example if you are responsible for vulnerable people like children or patients, or when you feel the weight of responsibility for your staff, worried about making sure you make enough money to pay them, it’s very difficult to park that at 5 o’clock.
Here are five things to do when you find you can’t leave work behind and the stress is starting to take its toll on your mental or physical health.
- Be in the moment while doing each task at work. By this I mean really focus on what you’re doing, not on the 10 other things you need to do. Easier said than done I know but if you can it will help your brain to park it once you’re done.
- Notice what you DID, rather than what you didn’t get around to. This is a glass half full mindset rather than a glass half empty or leaking! It doesn’t change the facts, but it helps us enormously by reducing the feeling of overwhelm and helplessness.
- Breathe deeply from your belly, not your lungs. This floods your executive brain, your pre-frontal cortext with oxygen so that you can think more rationally, do a reality check, put things in perspective and find solutions more easily.
- Pick a point or landmark on the way home where you mentally close the door on work. Whether it’s a junction, or a set of traffic lights or something else. Train your brain to switch from work to home at that point. Again, focus on the surroundings at that point, maybe even notice a tree nearby and watch the seasons pass by as the months go by. Bring all your attention to that landmark every time you pass it. You could count backwards once you see the landmark – that will help to distract your worried mind from work and make the switch.
- Focus, imagine and vision what is waiting for you at home. Family? Hobbies? An armchair with a cup of tea? Make your vision as detailed as possible and include all your senses to make the vision vivid. FEEL it. Feel the emotions that go with it.
These will require practise, but if you put as much time and effort into creating this new habit as you did creating the worry habit, you will get there.
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