How to leave your work at work

How to leave your work at work

At the end of a long day, there’s nothing worse than feeling like you can’t escape the stresses work throws at you.

Mental health experts say that we need to understand stress is mostly unavoidable and wishing it away just won’t work.

“For many, stress presents as a feeling that we are doing something wrong. We have to understand that stress is a part of life,” says Nick French, MA, family therapist and head of the Stress Management Group at Advocate Medical Group. “Once we normalize our stress, we are less likely to struggle with the idea of overcoming it.

French recommends developing a routine as you leave your job at the end of the day.

The Departure

One common mistake is that we think simply by leaving the office, we are leaving work. We need to plan the end of the day, so we can comfortably walk away.

For some, the best way to do this is to make a to-do list for the following day. If the process of making a list only makes leaving work feel more daunting, try making a list of your accomplishments of the day. This can restore purpose and motivate you as you prepare to come back for another day.

Another solution might be to schedule a half an hour block of time at the end of every day that doesn’t include meetings. Use this this time to catch up on emails and wrap up any outstanding activities. This will help you achieve a sense of closure to the day.

The Flight

The commute home comes with a host of potential stressors, including traffic and unexpected delays, which can reignite any and all of the past frustrations from a long day. To avoid a stressful rush, allow yourself ample time. If reducing travel time is not realistic, try identifying a checkpoint along the way that serves as a landmark for your transition to home life. It might be a building, an intersection or memorable sign – whatever it is, make a promise to yourself that when you cross this threshold, you will make an effort not think about work again until you cross it again in the morning. If all else fails and time allows, break up your commute by stopping to treat yourself to a special shopping trip or dinner on your way.

The Landing

For most of us, the final phase is the one that is most rewarding. This is when we have arrived home and we can officially close the book on another day of work. Develop a routine that lets your mind and your body know you have arrived. The answer for many is a glass of wine, but for others it might be the simple act of hugging your kids, a jog on the treadmill or maybe it’s just changing out of your work clothes.

Whether your end-of-day signifier happens at work, on the way, or as you arrive home, make it part of your routine so you can end that day with a period, and prepare yourself for a new chapter tomorrow.

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  1. Thanks for these great tips! Putting on comfy clothes when I come home definitely helps me de-stress after a long day. Yoga too.

  2. This stock photo made my morning. Thanks for the chuckle — and the useful tips!

  3. A quick pick up game of basketball always gets my mind off of myresponsibilitys. When im on the court all i think about is getting buckets.

  4. Wow, if this only worked!!

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About the Author

Mickey Ramirez
Mickey Ramirez

Mickey Ramirez, health enews contributor, is the director of Brand Services. He enjoys kimchi, honesty and a room with a view. He claims to not be a writer, but he occasionally learns information that is just too important to keep to himself.