A rough day at the office can be enough to ruin your whole day – or in some extreme cases, the entire week.
But, the drama, politics and malaise of the workplace doesn’t need to seep in to your private life, even if sometimes it feels like any boundaries between the two have totally dissolved.
To celebrate World WellBeing Week, which this year takes place between June 26 – 30, we asked five experts for their best advice for people wanting to leave their bad day at the office where it belongs… at the office.
‘A buffer is your secret weapon’
Stress stacks up in the day while at work and often comes out at the people we love most in the evenings and weekends. If you want to boost your ability to enjoy down time while also preventing burnout (which can be the cumulative effect of workplace and emotional stress) then consciously knowing how to let it out in healthy ways can be useful.
In a hybrid world many of us are finding it difficult to have a consistent routine that would enable us to build healthy health habits so taking some time to reflect each week can help us create the buffers to switch gears from work to personal life.
A buffer could be as simple as a walk, yoga class or talking to debrief your day and then let it go.
Movement of some kind is often the best way to physically shake off the stress from the day – a few stretches, a walk around your block or putting your favourite song on and dancing around your kitchen are all simple ways to ensure you shift gears to resourcing yourself or connecting with others.
Petra Velzeboer is a psychotherapist, CEO of mental health consultancyPVL and author of new book Begin With You, published 3 May 2023
‘Be intentional about self-care’
A difficult day at work can leave us feeling jangled and depleted – here are three really practical things to help you re-set.
Firstly – calm your nervous system. A difficult and stressful day can leave us full of the hormone cortisol which makes us simultaneously tired and wired. It can really help to give yourself a few minutes to focus on your breath: breathe deeply into your abdomen and count the breaths in and out to a regular pattern.
Secondly – think of something that makes you happy; a person, a place, a memory. Not only will this help you take your mind off your day, it will also help your body to metabolise the cortisol.
Thirdly – do something that re-charges your batteries. Think about something that will restore your energy and dedicate time to it. A walk, a sleep, a read, a chat – whatever it is, being intentional about topping up your energy is so important to your self-care and can give you a new perspective too.
Becky Hall is an accredited life coach, leadership consultant and is the author of The Art of Enough
‘Shower as soon as you get home from work’
The minute you arrive home at the end of your working day, switch off your phone and don’t open your laptop. Kiss your family, hello and hug them. Head upstairs for a shower and, as you take off your work clothes, take off your ‘work head’.
Play some music, jump in the shower, and sing at the top of your lungs. Afterwards, sit quietly for 10 minutes. Close your eyes and relax your shoulders. Inhale slowly through your nose and out through your mouth.
Think of your heart filling with love, emanating warmth to everything and everyone. As you exhale, breathe out the tightness and anxiety, letting your breath change your body/brain chemistry. Imagine your perfect personal/work life balance, visualizing yourself being in control of your time, fulfilling your tasks and saying NO when you feel overwhelmed. Make this a part of your routine after each working day.
Lianna Champ has over 40 years’ experience as a grief specialist and is author of practical guide, How to Grieve Like A Champ.
‘If your stress was an animal, what animal would it be?’
If your mind feels stuck on a hamster wheel of stressful thoughts, chances are this is your left brain at work. The left brain can get trapped going round and round in circles and only paying attention to what it already knows, instead of seeing new information that can help us solve problems or really relax by embracing the present moment. This is where we need to activate our right brain, and a great way to do that is through visual techniques.
So, if your mind is sitting with a particular piece of stress, try to objectify it. Associating the stress with something physical will help you to understand and process your emotions from a fresh angle. For example, if your stress was an animal, what animal would it be?
Once the image of your ‘stress’ animal is strong in your mind, ask yourself: what do you think is really cute about this animal? Attaching something positive to it can “tame” your brain and prevent it from catastrophising.
Finally, ask yourself: what environment do you see this animal in? Go through the mental process of putting your ‘stress’ animal where it belongs and leave it there. This allows you to mentally detach yourself from your stress.
Yda Bouvier is an Executive Coach and the author of Leading with the Right Brain
‘Create positive morning micro-habits’
Don’t wait until the end of the day to deal with stress, instead pre-empt difficult days by making your mornings matter. Set the tone for your day by carving out time to meet your needs and apply some self-care before the world around you comes to life and pulls you in different directions.
Hydrate: Drinking a big glass of water first thing in the morning might seem obvious – but the brain’s ability to cope with stress and make decisions is impacted by dehydration. If you’ve got a jam-packed day ahead, hydrating in the morning will give you a head start.
Relax: Spend a few minutes taking some slow inhales and exhales, and then journal or think about something you’re looking forward to that day.
Achieve: What are the top 3 things you want to tick off your to-do list. Keep it bite-sized and manageable.
There might be other ways that support you in meeting your needs, but by creating positive morning micro-habits that enable you to ‘fill your own cup’ first, you’ll be in a much better state to deal with any challenges that come your way that day.
Bookending your day in the similar fashion will help your mornings become even more fulfilling. Switch your journaling prompt to something you’re grateful for, tune into a relaxing yoga nidra meditation via an app or wind down with gentle stretches.
And importantly, get anything ready that you need for your morning self-care. This will help your brain less reliant on making decisions first thing in the morning and it therefore becomes easier to stick to your new habits. Do your new routine every day for 30 days and enjoy!
Oliver Henry is a workplace wellbeing expert and co-founder of WorkLifeWell