I'm not going to insult you by taking the position of the very clinical statement; "In today's fast-paced world, the demands of work can often extend beyond the office walls, affecting various aspects of our lives—including our relationships at home". No shit, right?
It is quite common knowledge that the intricate link between work stress and its impact on our personal connections is a phenomenon that many of us can relate to. It's a given and many professionals have been discussing it since I can remember, even as a kid. I watched it happen with my parents. Hell, I watched it happen with my Grandparents before they retired and drove each other crazy anyway.
Heavy The weight of work stress doesn't simply dissipate once we step through our front doors. The residual tension from our professional lives can seep into our interactions with loved ones. From irritability during dinner conversations to feeling emotionally distant, work stress can cast a shadow on the quality of our home relationships. It can also prevent communication--the one aspect that we NEED in order to decompress the stress build-up from our day of digging ditches and burning bodies. When we're preoccupied with work-related worries, we struggle to actively listen to our partners, children, or other family members. Misunderstandings become arguments. Arguments become fights. Fights become screaming matches. The dog shits on the carpet with perfect timing and then World War III plays out in your home.
Stressed? Stop doing that.
This is not a blog post about managing your stress at work. Oh no, far from it. To do that would require individualistic details about YOUR particular stressful circumstances and the kind of person you are. This post is about tools for you to use when you find yourself in one of these situations where your awful/stressful day at work is looking like it's about to bleed into your home life. Yes, stress is part of life, but stress caused from workload or the kind of work you do is different. Remember - your work life is not your life. Your home life is your life and can/will be influenced by your work life, but not governed by it. Although it does seem like this can be the opposite most of the time when we let it happen. The tools, then...
Stop Communicating By Text
What? Stop texting? We LIVE via text and you want me to stop? Pshaw.
No. Far be it from me to even suggest that texting can be detrimental to our lives. What I am saying is that communication by text message when angry must be stopped. I am guilty of it myself. One of my two daughters and I live on the same planet but in two different worlds. My day typically begins at 6am and wraps up around 10:30-11:00pm-ish. Her day starts around noon and then ends around 3am, if at all. At this point, I'm pretty sure she owes hours to the universe. Anyway, sometimes we do things that annoy one another. It can be anything, but regardless of the severity of the offense, if we communicate our displeasure to one another via text then you can be 100% sure it will become a fight. Why? Because text messages cannot convey emotion, regardless of how many emoji's or "Lol's" are used. We interpret words in the most sensitive and guilt-ridden of ways and are sure to take offense from what might have started as a mere innocuous request or suggestion. Guaranteed, if the subject is sensitive in any way, better off making a call or better yet, waiting til you are face to face to communicate.
So you're face to face and you've had a day where you were the hydrant at the end of a long line of dogs. Things are tense at home. Someone touched the thermostat. The laundry never got moved to the dryer and smells now. Everyone is sick of chicken for dinner. Whatever the "end of the world" reason may be, you're into it now and the family member you are "discussing" things with is letting you know their side of the story. What would be the worst thing you could do at that very moment? You guessed it, you could interrupt them. Because after all, you get all warm and fuzzy inside when someone interrupts you when conveying your thoughts and ideas... right? Stop it right now and let them get their point out as well.
"Don't Interrupt" Also Means... Listen
Just in case that wasn't clear, allowing your family member to speak their point is great, but if you're just standing there with your blood boiling, teeth grinding your canines flat, and not actually hearing a word this family member is expounding to you, you're missing the point here. Yes, it can be hard to listen objectively when A) You are angry B) They are angry C) Your show is starting, but it's something you will have to practice to get right. Actually listening to someone and understanding and accepting their point of view when yours may be the complete opposite takes practice. Lots of it. What tool do I use when in a similar situation? I try to walk a mile in their shoes and understand the opposing view. Sometimes it works, but even if it doesn't, it does help disarm the situation and allow more sane conversation to start again.
Accept and Compromise
Everyone deserves their pound of flesh in life, but if that means that you've had a huge bite taken out of your ass at work then its hard to just let that go and accept defeat--even if you are the one in the wrong. Actually, there should never really be a "winner" in these battles. Instead, all involved should try to accept that everyone is heated and
everyone is entitled to have had a bad day. You will find that accepting this, compromising in the situation so that everyone gets a little something, but not everything, will allow the entire conflagration to decompress. Sometimes this means walking away and thinking awhile, sometimes it's done on the spot. Recognizing the impact of work stress on our home relationships and that its not just you, is always the first step.
Have A Family Plan
Implementing effective strategies to manage work stress can positively influence our home relationships. Planning for this with the tools mentioned above can really be effective in accomplishing this. Remember, your home relationships will always be more important than work relationships. Nurturing our home relationships can also contribute to our resilience in the face of work-related challenges.
A supportive and understanding home environment can act as a buffer against the strain of work stress, helping us recharge and face our work-related duties with a clearer perspective. Planning for this is simple--nothing needs to be written down, no contracts signed. Just agree to talk and keep these tools in mind before things begin to get hot.
A Clinical Conclusion Would Be
This is what a social worker might say in conclusion: "In the end, acknowledging the intricate dance between work stress and home relationships empowers us to take control of the narrative. By nurturing both our well-being and our connections with loved ones, we can cultivate a more harmonious and fulfilling life—one where the ripples of positivity extend from our workplaces to our homes." Yeah. Snore.
Coach's Closing Words are
The guidelines and tools provided do work so long as all family members involved are willing to use them. This won't always be the case and may even require the acceptance that YOU are the one not following the ways of the Jedi. You're human. We're human. It happens. Be mindful of what you say and how you say it. And hey, seeking professional guidance and learning effective stress management techniques is part of what I do. If you need a little kick-start down the path to future "intense conversation", I'm here for you. Feel free to reach out.