For me, a day at the office ends in quite the typical manner. I log off my computer, gather my things and say my goodbyes. All official duties stop once I hit that stretch of pavement between the building and my car. Or at least that’s my intention. Sometimes, I don’t realize I’ve subconsciously lugged home after-hours assignments until I’m in my living room, meticulously rehashing the day’s challenges to my husband. One day, in the middle of a particularly feverish rant, I stopped waving my arms around long enough to actually notice him. Even though I probably looked like I was about to take flight, his facial expression still puzzled me.
“What?” I asked him, clueless.
“Sometimes when you come home, you’re like a tornado,” he huffed, now clearly annoyed by my theatrics. “You just unleash all this stress and drama and it brings me down.”
For a split second, I almost took a defensive stance. I came thisclose to telling him how he was an insensitive jerk and to just shut up and support me and UGH!!! Instead, his blunt declaration stopped me dead in my tracks, forcing me to consider his words.
Realizing the accuracy of his assessment, I instantly felt draped in a shroud of shame. I had allowed my experiences on the job to infiltrate our personal space in a negative way. I’d come to rely on him to allow me to vent and express my frustrations with no filter. Suddenly, I worried that without an open-ear policy, my sanity would become a distant memory. Then, I recognized that in this moment, he chose to stop enabling me. I had to find a way to manage my frustrations without sacrificing a healthy home. As a result, I came up with a list of remedies to stormproof the home atmosphere from the withering elements of life at the office:
- Leave a Paper Trail, Not a Path of Destruction–This may seem like an obvious solution for someone who calls herself a writer, but for a while I abandoned the practice of journaling. I forgot how helpful it really is. When I stopped regularly documenting my thoughts, I relied heavily on others to validate my emotions. I complained more than ever, and no one likes a whiner. Writing allows me to vent without wearing family and friends down with my struggles, neuroses, and general bitchiness. After four or five pages, I tend to either resolve a lot of my own issues, put them in proper perspective so they aren’t as pressing, or simply run out of enough energy to fuel my negative emotions.
- Get Your Body in Motion Before You Tear the House Down– Obviously, I’m no workout guru, but the mental benefits of regular physical activity are well-documented. I can attest to being calmer, less irritable and sleeping better after a good Zumba session. Muscle fatigue, stiff limbs and soreness from a good workout zap most of my energy, along with my will to care.
- Tap Into Your Vortex and Help the Calm Overtake the Storm–My therapist introduced me to this simple yet effective method of using your fingertips to gently tap specific pressure points on the body. Supporters believe the method alleviates anxiety, fear, pain and other potentially disabling emotions. Something about closing my eyes and humming a little ditty while gently tapping my collarbone minimizes tension. For me, a fresh problem initially appears like a huge hand way too close to my face. The warmth, smell and the invasion of that hand in my personal space stifles my breathing, its presence imposing and tangible. After engaging the tapping process, the hand retreats little by little until it eventually becomes nothing more than a blur on the fringes of my mind.
- Hover, But Don’t Touch The Ground–Sometimes a good old-fashioned venting session does the trick, but it should not go on. And on. Instead of rambling on into the night and talking through an episode of Scandal, my husband and I set a timer for one another. At the 15-minute mark, we wrap up our complaint session and let our problems ascend back into the clouds. This way, we expel our frustrations without them lingering long enough to cause any damage, structural or otherwise.
- Take Shelter by Diving in a Ditch–Lying face down in a gutter may not sound very appealing, but it beats getting tossed around with a herd of cows, siding and debris. Performing an unpleasant task may help distract you from the blues. If something upsets me, I seek refuge by washing dishes, grocery shopping, organizing my sock drawer–anything to get my mind off my perceived problems. If things get really bad, I may even resort to cooking.
Receiving that much-needed wake-up call helped me realize all that goes into maintaining a healthy home. We pay other people for lawn upkeep and insurance on the appliances. But it’s strictly up to us to cultivate a home environment to offset the oftentimes brutal workplace happenings. Ever since that day, I fight hard to avoid tracking the remnants of a crappy day all over my house. Now when I cross the threshold, I make a conscious effort to silence the whirlwind within by refusing to let the storms I encounter blow down my front door.
What tools do you use to keep work troubles away from home? Feel free to leave comments.