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Have you ever had that pit-in-your-stomach feeling because of a stressful meeting? Or opened your email to see a message that made you close it right down because you knew it would be a tough one? We’ve all had stressful moments at work and it would be a rare person who hasn’t experienced some of the results of that stress carried home.
Increasing bodies of research demonstrate stress at work has negative effects—including on our lives outside the office. Work and life aren’t separate. Work is part of a full life, thus when work isn’t perfect, it can intrude on the quality of our life overall.
Work Can Have Negative Effects on Life
One study found work stress tends to negatively affect our sleep. Email also has an effect. A study which focused on incivility found when messages are rude or unnecessarily urgent, employees tend to experience adverse physical symptoms, negative emotions and spillover of stress they bring home to their partners.
Additional research found stress at work also affects parenting. Mothers who experience incivility at work tend to feel less effective overall, resulting in more strict, authoritarian parenting which in turn correlates with adverse impacts for their children. Another research effort found if parents are unavailable to children because of long hours or work distractions, children experience negative outcomes.
Our experience at work matters to our life at work, but also to our lives in general. It’s impossible to share our best selves with our families, friends and life partners if we’re struggling with high levels of stress at work.
But it’s possible to manage stress and create boundaries to protect our lives at home.
First, see the big picture. Stress at work is challenging, but it doesn’t have to be all-consuming. Remind yourself about other things that are important, reassure yourself about all that is positive in your life beyond a particular work stressor and encourage yourself by recognizing what is upsetting today may not even be in your memory a year or two from now.
Create mental separation by consciously putting work aside as you transition to your time away from the office. Finish your call before you enter your home. Lengthen your commute by driving or walking around the block a few times if you need those extra moments to decompress. Even consider taking a shower when you get home—anything to create mental and emotional distance from the source of your work stressors.
Make a Friend
It’s well known that having a best friend at work contributes to positive work outcomes. But it’s also helpful to have a trusted colleague with whom you can obtain perspective and reassurance. In addition, having a coworker you can confide in helps you keep work at work, and allows you to be more emotionally available for friends and family at home.
It’s also important to be open at home when you’re challenged at work. Let those who are close to you know you’re struggling. Help them understand your difficulties and let them know that if you’re not yourself, it’s not about them. But, don’t dwell—be ready to move on and focus on what is meaningful to you outside of work.
Focus on Others
Another way to mitigate stress is to help others and broaden the focus from yourself to those around you. Stressful or challenging situations tend to narrow our views, as become consumed by our own difficulties. Volunteering, sharing talents with others or assisting those in need all have the effect of reducing how we experience our own stress because we’re more focused on others.
Be a Beacon
Never underestimate your own effect on others. Demonstrate caring through your behavior at work and do your best to avoid being someone else’s stressor. Sociologically, our behavior is significantly influenced by those around us, so we all have the power and opportunity to have a positive impact on our community.
It’s unlikely that we can ever eliminate stress. But it’s possible to create a positive boundary between work stressors and more fulfilling and rewarding lives.
April 14, 2019 at 07:00PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs