The concept is so simple, yet it can have a profound effect in your life. Learning to shut the door on work once you leave work will immediately lead to a fundamental life-change that will bring positive results emotionally, mentally and physically. When you leave work, leave work, and do not take any of it with you. Leave it in your office, at your desk, or in that particular area where you work. You are done, and your workday is over. Now enjoy the rest of your day.
Why is it important to keep work at work? Because work-related stress is at an all-time high, and you need to have time away from work, even thinking about work, to regroup. Work stress causes you to feel stuck, unable to untangle yourself from the web of work related issues at the end of the day. This results in more stress, which increases emotional sensitivity; and you start feeling negative emotions like anger, frustration and anxiety to name a few.
If you want good emotional and mental health, you need to make sure that work has not thrown your life out-of-balance. When your life is out-of-balance, your emotions flare up, your personal relationships suffer, and you experience less free time. Free time allows your body and your brain to refresh, to renew. Work does the opposite.
The process to increase your free time begins after you make a decision to take your free time back and enjoy life. This change will bring about feeling more positive emotions, not the negative ones.
The first rule is more like a commandment, thou shalt do no work at home. Period.
If you do not quit taking work home, over time, your emotional, mental and physical health will suffer. When you are young, you don’t notice the small changes taking place in your body, emotions, and in your health when you are stressed-out and doing work overload. For those of you who are younger, over time, you will see work overload show up first in a lack of job satisfaction, fatigue and burnout.
You may be able to take work home with you when you are young, but down the road, you will pay a price. Life is about balance. When work enters into your home in any form, it is not a good thing.
The second rule to disconnect from work is that when you shut the door at work, you make a commitment not to talk to anyone about work. Taking work home with you includes talking about work outside of the workplace. Why is it important not to do this?
What you may not realize is that as you talk about work, you refuel the emotions you felt at work during the day. My guess is they were either negative or neutral with an occasional laugh. Talking about work, you relive the experience, including how you felt. This keeps the negative energy going in your body and brain, at least until you stop talking about it.
The final rule is the toughest one, Do not even think about work after you leave work. It will take you some time to learn how to overcome your tendencies to regularly think about work when you are away from work. The key is you have to settle in your mind, meaning your thoughts, that it is time to make a change.
Are you really happy with work right now? How does it affect your personal life, your emotions? Does it interfere with your free time?
I see the work issue as similar to an obsession. Work has so penetrated a person’s thinking; they do not stop and consider the negative consequences coming down the road.
Work obsession plays out in one of two ways. First are the people who are driven to succeed, and they are in contrast to those who want to please. Once you choose either path, you will have to play the part until you’re done, and breaking free of this type of behavior is not easy
My advice is two words. Stop It! Followed by weigh your approach to work.
The second use for obsession is people regularly talk about work with others when they are away from work. The obsession is thinking about work, the compulsion is talking about it. At this point, work inhabits a large part of your thinking, behavior and life, and this affects you emotionally. Check it out and see.
My advice is two words. Stop It. No one is telling you to do this.
The best way to reinforce this change is by making your home your castle. Your home needs to be a safe place where you can take refuge at the end of your day. Do not let a work project, or even a thought of work cross the threshold into your home. Create the positive atmosphere you want to feel when you walk into your home after work.
When my daughter-in-law Kate was having some work related issues, I found she was putting pressure on herself to perform at an unreasonable level. She worked a midnight shift, so she was the only one there, and she was the boss. Kate would deny herself breaks to stay on top of her work responsibilities, and even minimized her lunch time. I told her that she needs to fire her night-boss, start taking her breaks, and quit putting so much pressure on herself.
Workplace issues are not about what is in front of you, it is how you respond when it comes up. People who have difficulty shutting the door on work, whether physically or emotionally, are similar to Kate. They are their own worse boss! People with work-related issues primarily are putting pressure on themselves. Over time, this will lead to feeling emotionally overloaded, overwhelmed, and maybe fatigued. Worker burnout will follow.
If you are one of those people who are work-obsessed at some level, then you need to be aware of the consequences coming, beginning with stress related diseases. Secondly, long periods of stress can lead to mental health issues. If you do not value your free time, you are giving it away to a cruel taskmaster.
I want to go back to the concept I used explaining why it is important to get away from work, which is refresh and renew.
There are two other areas of refresh and renew that you need to make sure are happening in your life as you make work changes. The first is the importance of sleep. The brain and body need time to refresh, renew and even heal, which it does through sleep. The average time you should sleep is 7-9 hours a night. This is based on simple sleep rhythms that put the brain through various stages including deep sleep where brain repair is taking place. Do work issues cause you sleep disturbance?
Another concept of rest and restore can be seen in the Jewish Sabbath. One day of rest each week. On the day of rest, Jewish people were to abstain from all work. Six days to work, one to rest. How about you? Do you have one day of rest? No work. No yard work. No housework. Having a Sabbath day has had a positive impact in my life since I began this practice. What is there not to like about it?
The one-day of rest is needed, to allow 6-days of wear and tear on the body and brain, to refresh and restore. Rest is imperative for good health.
After reading this you may need to take a step back and evaluate your relationship to work. You may need to ask some questions about the importance of work in your life.
The change is simple, shut the door on work. The rewards are great!
To learn some tips on how to control your emotions, change bad behavior and improve your life, purchase my book “Take Control of Your Life” now or contact me today to schedule a free introductory personal life coaching assessment.
As an expert in emotional intelligence, I also deliver keynotes, small group presentations and seminars for companies and organizations striving for effective communication, leadership and team performance.