When You Take Your Work Stress Home

  1. At the end of a long shift there’s nothing you’re looking forward to more than coming home to relax—but you can’t. Even after you’ve physically left the hospital, your mind is still there. The stress of today, tomorrow, or yesterday interrupts your sleep, or steals your time to weigh your coveted hours down with stress. Practice methods to put a stop to the rewind button in your thoughts.

    When You Take Your Work Stress Home

    Some days the end of the shift can't come soon enough, although often it might seem as if after you physically leave work, your mind decides to stay. Your thoughts run like a hamster on the wheel and you can't stop rehashing the day. Wondering what you could have done differently, or how your patient is doing now, or worrying about what issues are waiting for you to return tomorrow.

    Work can become difficult to separate from your personal life if work stress catches a ride home. Fretting about work can become intertwined in your routine, making it hard to truly unwind and relax. Work worries can weigh on your physical and mental health, and steal the joy from your time away. This can result in starting the next day stressed about work before you return.

    Tune in To Your Routine

    The long commute home may have you routinely mulling over the day, or the end of the evening may awaken your mind to worry about the stress of tomorrow instead of preparing for sleep. Often the environment, or certain situations, can trigger a certain feeling or prompts us to follow a routine such as when and where you have your coffee, or check your email. It often takes a conscious effort to change a habit. It's easy for someone to tell you to stop worrying about something or to suggest methods that work for them, but only we can determine what works best for us, and to make that happen it may require creating new habits.

    We are creatures of habit, but there's no reason we can't work on making positive habits to challenge the negative. As nurses, most of us are aware of how stress and fatigue can affect our mental and physical health. Yet often we end up neglecting ourselves because we're busy taking care of everyone else, or we feel like we can't take the time to make the effort. After a while, we believe that this is just what we do, or how things have to be. If we become aware that worrying about work frustrations has become our routine, we can make an effort to change these habits and our mindset.

    Divide Your Day

    It can be difficult to change your thought pattern but trying to leave unnecessary work worries at your job before you start the rest of your day can help you enjoy that time better.

    Unwind on the Drive Home
    The distance from work to home can be frustrating, but it can also be an opportunity to mentally divide your professional from your personal life and leave your work stress behind.
    • Schedule an activity or appointment after work to avoid lingering late when it's not essential
    • Stop at the gym before heading home to temper stress with exercise
    • Listen to an audiobook on your drive home or your favorite upbeat or relaxing music
    • Call family or friends during the commute


    Unravel your Thoughts
    Most of us have obligations awaiting us at home and if we're distracted by work, we can't give our family, friends, and ourselves the attention they deserve.
    • Change your clothes into something more comfortable and that you associate with home
    • Adjust the settings on your phone so you're not getting constant email notifications
    • If you must check your work email, schedule a certain time and time-frame to do so
    • Enjoy a walk with family or friends or another enjoyable activity


    Unplug for the Night
    We all need our sleep, but despite how tired we may be, sometimes work stress can cause sleep to elude us. There are many tips on improving sleep, and working on a few habits might help get some extra shut-eye and start the workday more rested.
    • Develop a nighttime routine that indicates to your mind and body that you're ready to relax
    • Separate day from night with a warm bath, herbal tea, or a certain beauty routine
    • If possible, don't keep your phone on the nightstand
    • If you need your phone nearby at night, consider adjusting the settings for certain numbers to have access if it's essential and set the others to Do Not Disturb

    Clear Your Mind

    Nursing can be a stressful job and sometimes it can be hard to banish all the worries and stress from our mind at the end of the day. But if we make a conscious effort through routines and habits to separate the stressors of the day from our evening, we might be able to clear our minds and be more rested and relaxed for tomorrow.

    How Do You Separate Your Personal and Professional Life?
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    About Maureen Bonatch MSN, BSN, RN

    Maureen Bonatch MSN, RN draws from years of experience in nursing administration, leadership and psychiatric nursing to write healthcare content. Her experience as a fiction author helps her to craft engaging and creative content. Learn more about her freelance writing at CharmedType.com and her fiction books at MaureenBonatch.com

    Joined: Mar '05; Posts: 62; Likes: 264
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    Specialty: 20 year(s) of experience in Leadership|Psychiatric Nursing|Education

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