Does this sound like you? You give 100 percent all day at work, and by the time you leave, you’re mentally exhausted. On your commute, you go back over the day’s events and all the things you meant to get to but didn’t. You stop by the grocery store and shop with the rest of the tired after-work crowd and their hungry, cranky kids and finally make it home.
Your spouse had the same intense kind of day you did, so when you see each other you’re both short-tempered, and sometimes tempers flare. Earlier in the day you meant to cook a healthy meal and exercise, but now your heart just isn’t in it. Half of your mind is still processing work problems, and your evening just makes you more stressed and exhausted.
If that sounds like most nights in your household, consider changing up your after-work routine. Rituals allow you to decompress and leave stress at the office so you can relax while you’re home and reconnect with family instead of turning home into a stressful environment.
Why Establish an After Work Routine
Experts at Psychology Today studied distressed couples and found many arguments aren’t triggered by money or substance abuse, but by the inability to transition from work to home. Someone said or didn’t do the right thing during initial interactions and the disagreement and tension escalated as the evening went on. In contrast, people who had rituals that allowed themselves to transition were much less likely to experience that type of disagreement.
Even if you’re not coming home to family members, it’s beneficial to have transition rituals. When you set clear boundaries between work and personal life, you allow yourself much needed time to recharge. Here are a few suggestions for creating an after-work routine.
Before You Leave Your Desk
Start the transition at work. Take a few minutes to clear away what you completed and won’t need the next day. Write down the tasks you need to work on first thing in the morning, then as you place your note where you’ll see it, mentally picture setting those tasks aside. You’re not going to forget, so there’s no need to worry about them on the way home.
On the Way to Your Car
Transitioning rituals are intentional. At work, interactions revolve around the jobs that need to be done. Reward or punishment is tied to performance. At home, every person has value, regardless of their performance. You have a different type of to-do list, but interactions should provide affection and support. When you go home you’re not just changing physical locations, you’re shifting your mindset.
As you cross the parking lot to your vehicle, take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Picture exhaling the day’s stress like a cloud of black smoke, then let it float away.
During Your Commute
As you start your car, take a minute for gratitude. Mentally list three things about your home life for which you are thankful.
As you drive, be intentional about letting go of stress. Now isn’t the time to catch up on the news. Instead, play music that improves your state of mind. For some people that might mean upbeat, happy tunes. Others unwind with relaxing music. If you need a dose of positivity, consider a comedy monologue.
Entering Your Home
A lot of people feel rushed at work, then when they get home they rush to cook dinner, help with homework, get kids bathed and off to bed, then knock out tasks for the next day. When you enter your home, take a brief pause and be both mentally and physically still.
Before you walk through the door, recognize what’s inside is part of the reason you go to work every day. Your family, your pets, your friends and your hobbies give meaning to your life. If other people live with you, seek them out, and make your first interactions positive ones.
Taking Care of Yourself
When you make your weekly grocery run, stock up on easy-to-grab healthy snacks. Eat one while you take a few minutes to unwind. Nourish your body before you’re starving and you won’t be as tempted to have Waitr bring you pizza. After you grab a snack, spend time doing your favorite physical activity to work stress and tension out of your muscles and blast your brain cells with endorphins.
Finding a Job You Love
If your job is making it difficult for you to enjoy the rest of your life, maybe it’s time for a change. Check out our online job postings to see if one might be a fit for you.