6 Simple Unwind Strategies for Your Journey Home From Work

06/17/2015 06:29 pm ET | Updated Jun 17, 2016
Mike Kemp via Getty Images

Unwind before you arrive home.

In the last month I have presented at about 15 conferences and a particular issue has raised it's head an unusual number of times. People have been saying that one big problem they are dealing with is the ability to leave work at work -- and arrive home and be a 'home/family person.'

Both men and women have said the same thing and that it is really intefering with their quality of life. They are snappy, irritable, uncommunicative, withdrawn and generally bad company!

You arrive home, drawn, focused on work problems and generally in a bad mood. And the next thing that happens -- yes, you guessed it -- a fight! And soon, it's the normal state of affairs (so to speak!) At which point we decide it's all too hard and we separate. And start the whole process over again.

No, you can't expect your loved ones to leave you alone for 15 minutes after you arrive home - so you can unwind in peace. They are excited about your arrival! And children don't understand the need to unwind. We need to think about how specifically, we are going to leave work at work. Step one is to just be aware that we bring work problems home! Sometimes we just don't realize that our behavior is different, that we are being picky, difficult, unreasonable and all those other words your loved ones are calling you!

Men are sometimes too willing to accuse women of 'uterine' problems HA HA.

Picture this scenario: You are at work, having a pig of a day. Everything seems difficult, nothing is going smoothly, and you can't seem to get ahead or make any impact on your in tray or INBOX. Suddenly, you notice it's 6.30 p.m. Damn! You promised to be home early tonight. You fly to the car, drive like a maniac to get home as soon as possible and walk in the door. Only to be greeted by lots of noisy people wanting your attention!

It's the last thing you need or want. So you raise your voice, act a little irritated and ask everyone to leave you alone for 10 minutes so you can change and unwind. You then proceed to have a dreadful evening with everyone upset, irritated, picky or sulking!

Here's a list of things, that work really well, for you to do once you leave work to unwind before you get home:

1. Have a notebook and pen in the car, and as soon as you climb into the car, write down all the things you need to attend to the next day and prioritize them. Or list the problems facing you and possible solutions. Or list the issues that have been worrying you and rate them in order of significance. Then close the notebook and put it in the console or the glovebox -- and that marks the end of your work day. From that point on you focus on home, good things that have happened to you, or something you could look forward to at home.

If your mind slips back to work, gently tell yourself that work is in the glovebox and you'll take the page out the next morning, when it's time to think about work again. Surprisingly, it only takes a short time before your brain learns that the notebook going into the glovebox is a sign to change thinking to home.

2. Use a geographical marker on the way home to signal to your brain that work thinking stops here and home thinking starts. Where I am from some people use the two pylons on the bridge. As they drive past the first one, they know they only have the time it takes to reach the other one before they regiment their brain to stop work thinking. Do you have any markers you could use?

3. Stop at some scenic or quiet spot on the way home (not the pub or bar!) and take your 10 minutes to unwind there. Take off an article of clothing that represents work, like your tie if you're a bloke (or a tie wearing woman) or your work shoes or earrings, if you are a woman - put 'home shoes' on.

Then take 10 minutes to meditate (no, you don't have to sit in a corner in orange robes chanting 'omm'!) All you do is stare at the view and think of nothing; or focus on your breathing in and out, in and out; or focus on your muscles, notice any tension and release it; or repeat the word 'flowing' to yourself; or focus on a colour; or sound; or any one of a zillion things like that. This helps your mind to settle and leave the jangled chaos of work thinking behind.

4. Play music in the car -- If you have a favourite piece of music, play it now. Sometimes it helps to have faster music at the beginning of the journey to match the faster pace of your 'work brain' and slow it down gradually over a period of 10 or 15 minutes - so that by the time you arrive home you have slowed down.

Or listen to a comedy skit; or a laughter track -- infectious laughter that will make you grin if not laugh! Or play motivational podcasts or personal development talks - no work ones!

5. Plan your next holiday. Think about what you would do, how relaxed you'd be and how much fun you would have.

6. Recall and 'relive' in your mind's eye good experiences from the past. A time when you laughed yourself silly; or were praised for fantastic performance; or did something about which you were really proud or some event like that.

This is just a small list of the possible ways to unwind before you arrive home so you can start the night off the way you would like it to finish! Have fun!


Amanda Gore

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