Now more than ever, it is important that we strive to gain and maintain work-life balance. According to one study, fifty-two percent of employees say that job demands interfere with family or home responsibilities, while 43% say that home and family responsibilities interfere with job performance. These statistics show just how overworked people are when they feel as if their home life is interfering with their work!
As a psychologist, I see it as a stress cycle. The stress at work causes stress at home, and then the stress of neglecting home affects the person’s work performance and further increases their stress at work. In this economy, people are working around the clock so it appears that personal things (that they should be able to do) seem to interfere with their job performance. Right now some people have the responsibilities of 2-3 different roles, their job day starts earlier and ends later, and everyone has one, if not two cell phones, therefore people are working so much that they don’t have the time and energy to maintain work-life balance and healthy relationships. When things get out of balance and their personal relationship becomes stressed, that stress will seep into their work life. It seems that personal responsibilities are impinging upon work because work has become so demanding that it prevents people from getting home early to spend time with family or from having time during the day to call their significant other.
It is really important to maintain work-life balance and to make sure that you don’t bring the stress of work home and allow it to sabotage the potentially positive time you should be spending at home with your family. You may feel like coming home and venting for hours but that will probably just make things worse.
Here are seven tips for ways to keep the stress of work out of your home life:
1) Leave some stressful issues at work. You can’t rehash every annoyance or major problem with your partner every day or all you will do is sound like you’re constantly complaining. Be selective about which story you want to share and which experiences you will keep to yourself.
2) Start the evening with quiet time. Everyone should have a chance to get in the door and unwind from their own stress at work before being hit with a laundry list of their partner’s issues. So don’t walk in the door complaining. Come in, change clothes, decompress and use that time to calm down and consider what things should be shared and which ones should not.
3) Limit the amount of time you discuss what’s stressing you. You have so little time to spend with your partner after work so don’t spend it all complaining about problems. Sometimes we have rolling conversations about stressful things throughout the night. You bring it up as soon as you get home, then again during dinner, then after dinner, and then again in bed. Have the conversation once and avoid revisiting it unless absolutely necessary.
4) Balance the negative with positive. Spend as much time talking about non-stressful things or being affectionate as you spend stressing out. You want to leave your partner with a positive feeling about you, instead of with a knot in their stomach.
5) Listen as much as you talk. If you want your partner to listen to you when you’re sharing your concerns then be sure to listen to your partner when they’re sharing theirs. Things will go better if you make eye contact and nod or comment to show agreement or react to what they’re sharing. Listening while staring at the TV or reading your mobile device will make your partner feel ignored.
6) Share with a friend. Our significant others tend to be our best friends and so we want to tell them everything that we go through both personally and professionally. Sometimes we don’t realize when that is becoming overwhelming or just too much info in too little time. If you have a good friend, sometimes you can decide to share with that person and not bring your every concern home to your partner.
7) Disconnect electronically. So many of us are glued to our phones and computers but at some point we need to disconnect for the night and relax, especially when you need time for yourself and to spend time with your spouse and kids. You can’t keep taking calls and reading emails through dinner, in the bathroom, in the bed and in the middle of a bedtime story! Choose a cutoff time to put your phone to bed and/or limit the amount of time you spend on the phone/computer so that you have time to take care of home.
I know everyone needs to do what it takes to keep their jobs but at the same time you won’t be successful at work if you’re falling apart from stress and your home life is crumbling around you. When you get home from work, try to manage your time and communications about work in a balanced way so that you can use your time at home to relax and recharge, not just rehash the day and keep the stress going.
What do you do to keep the work stress out of your home life?