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Friday, January 20, 2012

Are Your Workplace Stressors Stressing Out Your Family?

In my prior two blog posts, I discussed the bullying boss (Career: Are You a Bully at Work? and Dealing with a Difficult Boss) and how to use Square Breathing (Learning to Relax: Square Breathing) as one way to de-stress at work. Now, I'd like to focus on what you can do if your work stressors are having a negative impact on your family because you're coming home feeling irritable, cranky, worried or in a bad mood. 

Are Your Workplace Stressors Stressing Out Your Family?

Bringing Home Your Work Stress Without Even Realizing It
Without even realizing it, you could be bringing home your work stress in such a way that, without you even saying a word about your job, your spouse and your children are picking up that you're either angry, worried or frustrated and this might be affecting their moods as well. Of course, this isn't your intention. So, what can you do about it?

Are You Bringing Home Your Work Stress Without Even Realizing It?

There's no one-size-fits-all solution to try to inoculate your family from the detrimental effects of your workplace stress. Of course, managing your own stress is optimal with regard to taking care of yourself and your family. But what about those times when you come home after a stressful day, and you haven't had time to go to the gym or yoga class before coming home. You get home, you're tired and stressed out and the moment you walk in the door, your spouse, your children, and your barking dogs are all vying for your attention. At that point, you might feel so overwhelmed that you're tempted to go right back out the door and keep walking. So, what do you do?

If you're already on your "last nerve," you might lose your temper or do something that you'll regret later. Even if you manage to be responsive to your family, you can still feel overwhelmed and they'll often sense your irritability or anger. Your anger, frustration and irritability often have nothing to do with them. But you might, unintentionally, take it out on them, adversely affecting your relationships.

Transitional Time Between Work and Home


When clients talk to me about this sort of scenario, I often suggest making an agreement with their families to allow them a certain amount of time to transition from work to home. This can mean different things to different people. It usually starts with your being mindful that you've left your workplace and now you're home. I know that's not as simple as it sounds, especially since you're walking around with the same mind that's feeling anxious or frustrated by workplace stressors. But being mindful of where you are now--at home--is a start. It's bad enough that you might be under a lot of stress at work, you don't need to prolong it by carrying it around with you and bringing it back home.

So, the transition starts in your own mind. Then, make an agreement with your family agree that, barring an emergency, you need some "time out" before you're bombarded with whatever is going on at home. This might mean that you take a calming shower or bath or you spend a few quiet minutes to yourself--or whatever works best for you. The point is that whatever helps you to distinguish, on an emotional level, between when you were at work and where you are now, at home, will allow you to take that space that gets you through the transition.

When you're discussing this "time out" that you need, being specific about the amount of time (15 minutes? a half hour?) is better than giving vague notions about what you need. And don't expect that you or they will get it perfectly the first few times. Habitual patterns are often difficult to change. You might need to tactfully reinforce your agreement with reminders.

The Importance of Self Care
Now, you might wonder why, if I started this blog post by discussing how your workplace stress could be affecting your family, I've been focusing on you and not your family. Well, the point is that you need to take care of yourself first before you take care of your family. It's just like when you're on a plane and flight attendants demonstrate safety measures: They always tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before you put the mask on your child. Why? Because you'll be absolutely no good to your child if you haven't taken care of yourself first. So, the same applies in the workplace vs home situation: Take care of yourself first by destressing and you'll be better able to help your family.

Not only will you be accomplishing your intention of destressing yourself and taking care of your family, you'll also be showing by example that taking care of oneself is important and there are simple and effective ways to do it.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist with expertise in clinical hypnosis, EMDR, and Somatic Experiencing. I work with individual adults and couples.


To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist


To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me: josephineolivia@aol.com.



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