Published on April 24, 2024

Worrying Less About Work: How to Not Take Job Stress Home

Blurred Boundaries Between Home and Work

Workplaces, as we know them today, are immensely different from their traditional setup 20-30 years ago. Whether you work as a teacher, a nurse, a doctor, or a corporate employee, it has become increasingly difficult to disconnect from your job. Specifically, the post-pandemic era has seen a huge shift in the definition of a ‘workplace’ since the majority of the people are working exclusively from home or in a hybrid setup. In Australia alone, approximately 37% of employed people worked regularly from home as of August 2023.

This is one of the many reasons people are unable to fully detach themselves from their work as the boundaries between home and work are quite blurred. Allowing people to work remotely might indicate that they would have enough time and space to relax and decompress, but in many cases it is the opposite. Since they cannot physically remove themselves from their ‘workplace’, it is challenging for individuals to strike a balance between their personal and professional spaces. Recent findings from a survey conducted by Dr Hopkins and Professor Bardoel reveal that 41% of employees working from home found it difficult to overcome distractions and 37% of them were unable to switch off after work.

Post-Work Stress Management

Due to many physical and mental constraints in today’s age, it is imperative that people strive for a balanced outlook toward their professional and personal lives. The following are some measures that can be taken to tackle work-related stress:

Create Boundaries Between Work and Home

The first rule in not taking work stress home is to have a clear division between your workplace and home. This can be difficult in a work-from-home setup but is critical nonetheless. While working from home, people are unable to separate their personal and work-related tasks and can find it challenging to focus on either. Therefore, it is essential that work-from-home employees designate a fixed space and time for their work and do not give in to distractions.

Prioritise Tasks

A large part of work-related stress is the inability to complete daily tasks during the work hours. To help eradicate this issue, it is important to prioritise one’s tasks depending on the level of urgency. Creating a daily to-do list and having a visual representation in the form of a calendar can help prioritise tasks efficiently. Furthermore, this practice enables people to focus on their own goals and prevent them from overcommitting, which can lead to additional strain.

Take Regular Breaks

Apart from working efficiently, taking regular breaks is quite vital for stress management. One of the main reasons for increased stress in individuals is overworking or burnout. The ELMO Employee Sentiment Index found that 46% of Australian employees currently feel burnt out, reflecting growing concerns about job security and economic stability. Taking allocated breaks throughout the workday, as well as using your sick leave, annual leave, and mental health days are necessary to avoid this toll of work-related stress.

Minimise the Use of Technology

One of the cons of living in the technologically advanced era is the inability to log off. We are constantly glued to any one of the multiple screens, which directly affects our mental capacity. Every single task feels urgent when we receive work-related emails and Slack messages on our phones or laptops. Minimising the use of technology after work hours helps us disconnect from an endless flow of information. Many people find it relaxing to indulge in post-work hobbies like reading a book, taking a walk, going to the gym, or honing any craft like painting, knitting, etc.

Create a Third Space

Employees with familial duties can easily get into the rut of daily chores and exhaust themselves from the mundane routine. To help manage the stress of work and home, they need to have a third space for relaxation and self-fulfilment. Examples of these third spaces can be dance classes, book clubs, theatre clubs, or any activity that cultivates a hobby and provides a sense of identity to the individual. Such spaces give one an opportunity to relax and manage stress better.

Seek Professional Support

At times, work-related stress can be quite overwhelming especially when your mental or physical health is affected. You might experience increased mood swings, irritability, anger, or depression due to not performing well at work and, consequently, bringing that stress home. Seeking support from professionals like social and community workers during such a situation is the best option. With a Master of Social Work qualification online, accredited social workers can refer individuals to adequate support providers and can also provide counselling services themselves.

Conclusion

Managing work-related stress is crucial to one’s mental and physical health and adopting healthy coping mechanisms is key to finding the balance between work and life.


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