Dealing with Stress

Something I think many post grads struggle with is disconnecting from our jobs after work. Whether our bosses can reach us by email or smart phone at any time of the night, or we just torture ourselves by obsessing over work after the day is done, it can get to the point where it's just not healthy.

Last Christmas I whined and complained on this blog about how I only had 2 and a half days home for the entire holiday. At that point, I didn't have paid vacation time, and felt like I was being guilted into only taking one extra day off for the holiday. I hated my friends that got the week in between Christmas and New Years off, resented my company for the limited vacation days, and was generally just in a negative mood for the whole Christmas season.

This year I'm doing things a little differently. I'm taking four vacation days and making the five hour trip home for the entire week between Christmas and New Years. This break is going to give me the chance to see a few more of my downstate NY friends and spend some holiday time with my family that I just didn't get last year. I'm in a much better frame of mind this Christmas season because I have this break to look forward to. I'm allowing myself some time to disconnect.

I think the best way to figure out how you can disconnect is to simply think about what makes you happy (outside of the workplace) and then go for it.  For me, the absolute best disconnect is visiting home and seeing family. I saved up my vacation time for months, and I'm going for it. For others it might be taking a trip to another country, or even having a staycation where you allow yourself to do absolutely nothing.

While taking time away from the office is the ultimate disconnect, it's also important that a disconnect from work can happen on weeknights and two-day weekends too. Here are a few ways to do so:

1. Distract with fun: I'm lucky that my current co-workers and supervisors do not expect me to take work home. However, I'm a stresser by nature and often find myself worrying about various work projects when I'm off the clock. To distract myself, I de-stress after work by running at the gym, reading, teaching myself Dixie Chicks songs on the guitar (yup... maybe I'll post a blog of that sometime..or not), and cooking. All of these activities give my mind something pleasant to focus on that relates in no way to my job.

2. Create space: If your boss has taken to frequently emailing you at your personal email and calling you after working hours, try waiting to contact him/her back until working hours the next day if it's not an emergency. This is a gentle reminder to the company that your home life does not require you to be constantly plugged in, and you might not be available after hours for work related business.

3. Ask for space: If you work in a job that is less regimented with workday hours, consider asking that you be contacted only in the case of emergencies after 7pm every night (or whatever time is comfortable for you). Sometimes being upfront with your employers about your need to unwind can be beneficial, especially if you point out that time for rest means you will be more productive during the day.

Work is an important part of life and being a dedicated employee is great, but allowing work to mentally weigh you down outside of the office is just not healthy. Venting about work to your girlfriends over margaritas is one thing, losing sleep because you are obsessing over the next workday is another.

Do you ever have problems disconnecting from the office? How do you tune out the workday and relax?

1 comment:

  1. Good tips. I often check my email to see if case managers have emailed me since leaving and such and its not worth it...