Tips for Leaving Work Stresses at Work

Do you bring the anxiety of work home with you?  Sometimes it feels like it’s impossible to let go of job related stress.  Here are tips parents have shared about how they let go of work-related negativity. 


Does this sound familiar?  One parent shared her following experience with the PSP community:

I am having a really hard time letting go of what's going on at work. I have a difficult supervisor who is negative, negative, negative with me. I think she feels the need to put and try to keep me down based on her own insecurities. I do think she's smart and adds value to my work, although she's constantly looking for ways to tell me I'm wrong about my own work (even when it's clear I'm right). And I don't feel like she deals with me in good faith - she's under-handed, makes stuff up when it suits her etc. For various reasons I'm not worried about getting fired, so that's not an issue for now (although I feel like I need to be very careful on this front to make sure it doesn't become an issue in the future). And thank goodness, I'm fairly self-motivated regarding my work, although she really knows how to kill my enthusiasm.

I live here in Park Slope with just my son, and I feel like that's part of the problem. When I come home at night, after he goes to bed, I have hours to stew about it. It's hard for me to go out - too expensive, so I feel like that's not a feasible option.

I wish so much that I could just walk out the door at end of the workday, leave it at work, and not care. But obviously, I do. I'm losing sleep over it and it's making me feel generally unhappy. I also really am trying to get this under control so that it doesn't affect my productivity.

I'd love to hear the strategies that others use in order to deal with this situation. Thanks so much in advance.


Condition your mind to think differently:

“I had a very similar situation in a previous job, and I know, it’s really not easy to let it go and not keep replaying the frustrations of the day over and over in your mind. I used to let the negativity at work impact my entire life. When your work is important to you and takes up so much of your time, it feels like there's not much else to fill up your thoughts with. This is perhaps somewhat simplistic, but it all comes down to strengthening and conditioning your mind to do something different, and it’s really worked for me.

Right now you're allowing your horrible boss not only to make your work life miserable, but to make your personal life miserable as well, and you're not even getting paid for that time! I'm guessing you wouldn't invite her over for dinner, so why is she welcome in your house every night, especially during your precious alone time? During the time you're at work you have to deal with her s*** and you’re getting a paycheck in return, but when you're at home you're choosing to spend your time on it and getting nothing for it except poorer mental or physical health (as hard as it is to control those thoughts, I know). When you have a work-related thought off the clock, acknowledgeit, and then say to yourself, I am not getting paid to deal with her now, she is not welcome in my house, I will not let her impact my health and my life, this is MY time! If the thoughts are constant, then that response to it will be too, and after a while all you hear is the this is MY time part.

It may also help to have some sort of transition ritual when you walk in the door. Allow yourself your commute to mentally hash things out if you have to, but when you walk into your house/apartment, envision the slime of negativity coming off of you as you take off your coat or change your clothes. You could also sit in a chair and take full deep breaths for a minute, envision clean positive energy coming into your body and toxic negative energy coming out. Or maybe engage your son in some kind of silliness to fill up on positivity and laughter while letting the negativity of the day go.

I hope this and the other suggestions you receive will help. It’s so hard, I know!”


See a therapist, try acupuncture, practice meditation and do yoga:

“This sounds so familiar, I am starting to wonder if we know the same person!  For this kind of stress, you will probably need a professional. Between my therapist, my acupuncturist, and some yoga classes, I was finally able to "not care" and "let go" when I left the office during a year-long period when my boss was everything you are describing.  Acupuncture can do amazing things for stress, as can yoga. Both solutions are also hours where you can just focus on you - not her, not work.”

“If you cannot afford or have time to do acupuncture or outside classes, the next best thing I think is tapes that address meditation, stress reduction, breathing etc.  After a while they really do help, I have found.  Good luck”


What can you do AT work?

For starters, are there peers or fellow colleagues who you can talk to to see if they are having a similar experience? Sometimes, just knowing you are not alone can be helpful, especially if they can share some of their tips. Not only coping mechanisms, but also ways they may have been able to address, change and/or bypass their boss's behavior.

Escalating this issue to HR or your boss's boss can have its consequences, but it could also address the situation head on. Check your company's policies about escalating issues to HR, but generally HR is there to talk to about this - confidentially. If you are lucky, your company may have an EAP provider who you can call for advice. Something to consider, especially if other people are also struggling with the same person and there's a concern that the boss's behavior is having a negative impact on the business (and business results). And by business/business results, I mean whatever the organization's objectives are - results are results.

Taking some of these steps may help the OP to regain some feeling of control and feeling of success about the situation, which may also help in the off hours.

Longer-term, perhaps a job search is in order, although transition costs are usually high unless you are entering a new situation that you are pretty familiar with as you need to regain political capital - and with a child at home, sometimes knowing you are performing well enough not to be fired for a while is paramount!"


Further Reading:

Work Life Balance: De-cluttering Your Mind


PSP Recommendations:

For Acupuncture

For Meditation

For Yoga Classes

For Therapists