5 tips to prevent work stress from infiltrating home life

Work-related stress is not confined to the office. Many people struggle to manage job stress and its effects, often at the expense of their families, other personal relationships and overall health.

According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, a study published in the Health and Safety Executive found 43 percent of days lost to illness in 2015 in Great Britain were related to stress. Another study by American Psychological Association found work and money are the two most common stressors, and high prevalence of stress is linked to irritability, anger, nervousness and anxiety. These behaviors easily spill over from one's place of work to their home, straining relationships and adversely affecting health.

To minimize the impact of work stress on relationships and overall health, consider the following five tips from the Harvard Business Review.

1. Don't bring work home. According to a study by Scott Schieman, PhD, chair of the department of sociology at the University of Toronto, 50 percent of people bring their work home. The study also found those who "hold professional jobs with more authority, decision-making latitude, pressure and longer hours" have a higher incidence of work-life interference. If work consumes the time meant for unwinding and spending time with friends and family, the stress that comes with it will too.

If it's not feasible to completely avoid working at home after work hours, create rules for yourself, such as designating a few hours a day for working at home. Avoid working during valuable family time, like dinner time or bedtime with kids, and work in specified "home office spaces" to avoid lingering over work in bed or on the couch.

2. Practice healthy smartphone habits. The average person checks their phone 46 times per day, spending a total of five hours on mobile devices, according to the report. For this reason, many people feel tethered to their phones and the need to always be accessible. However, being "always on" can prevent you from turning off work-related stress. To prevent your phone from stressing you out, consider having two phones — one for work and one for personal use — to make it easier to avoid work-related messages when you are at home. Also, never check your email right before gong to bed, as this can impair your brain's ability to sleep and cause even more stress.

3. Develop a strong support system. Significant others can help relieve stress, but letting one person bear the brunt of all of your stress is unfair and can hurt the relationship. Having multiple people to lean on during times of stress can help you cope with your issues while maintaining positive relationships.

4. Prepare to switch gears at the end of the day. Sometimes a ritual or routine at the end of the day is helpful to ease the transition between work and going home for the evening. It's even more helpful if this habit helps you decompress, according to the report. For example, one could take a scenic drive home, listen to a favorite podcast or book on tape, listen to music or exercise.

5. Create a personal "third space." Busy professionals are often racing between responsibilities at work and at home with little time to explore their own interests and hobbies. It is important to carve out time in your schedule for a "third space" to do the things that help you as an individual relax and seek fulfillment outside of work and home.

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