How to De-stress, Leave Work at Work and Relax

Question: “Barnsley, I’m an incredibly driven person when it comes to my career and feeling like I’ve accomplished what I need to each day. In tackling those pursuits, there is a certain amount of ‘armor’ that I wear to continue forward motion despite disappointments, failures, etc. I find it difficult to remove this armor when I come back to my family at the end of the day. Do you have any suggestions for helping me transition from my ‘game face’ to my loving family face?”
Quinn in Wilminton, NC

Answer: I understand your predicament, Quinn. A lot of times we feel like the two-headed god, Janus, in our work versus home life. In Roman mythology, Janus is usually depicted with two heads, one facing one direction and the other in the opposite direction. One direction symbolizes the past and the other the future, so Janus is associated with transitions or changes from one state to another.

I think Janus is useful to us here in that what is most needed for ALL of us is a transitional time between work and home life in which we leave work at work, the armor as you so aptly put it, and DE-STRESS ourselves so we can be fully present to our families.

How to de-stress, you ask? This can be as simple as taking time to pray or listen to a positive CD in our cars, walking outside in nature, or enjoying a relaxing shower when we get home. At any rate, we all need to have some mechanism in place to smooth the transition between work and home life, even if you work at home!

May I suggest that you create an outward ritual (a shower, a walk, time for reading, etc.) as well as an inward ritual to make the shift. By inward ritual, I mean a tried and true way that you “change the channel” from push-push-push and work-work-work to relaxing with loved ones.

I find this much easier to do by creating my written plan for tomorrow (the outward ritual) before I leave my office. (By the way, I do work from home but I LEAVE my office every day–and I don’t return until the next morning–This is a topic for another blog post…) Then I consciously affirm to myself (the inward ritual) that I turn over all work concerns and endeavors to my Higher Power for safekeeping until tomorrow and I choose to be fully present to my family today.


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