Many, if not most of us take our work home with us. Sometimes it’s physical – we pack up our laptop and files and carry them home. Often we bring with us the flavour of the work day; if it’s been a good day that can be great but often it’s the office dramas and frustrations hang heavy on us as we make our way home. This means that we are not really present in large parts of our lives. We know that chronic, unmanaged stress can cause physical illness. Right now many of us are working from home and have been for several months, so the boundaries between our home and our work have shifted, blurred and changed.
When you learn to be in the current moment, you learn how to be more present in your life.
How to manage work stress.
Right now there are more stresses than ever being heaped upon us, the world is heading into a recession of the likes never seen before. You might be worrying about keeping your job, or finding a new one. Worries about the health of our families and loves ones plays on our minds too. When we allow stresses from different parts of our lives to build up and to leak into other areas we can notice that our personal lives become less enjoyable. When we are tried and frazzled it’s easy to feel like the universe is conspiring against us. Events that we would normally shrug off become big dramas. We argue with our loved ones and friends, thinking they are being deliberately obstructive.
Perhaps we are less present with the people we love. Small things set us off. None of us want to approach our lives feeling miserable and thinking the worst of interactions, and yet this is what happens when we let the events of the day run our mood rather than taking a break and refocusing our attention on what we actually want to achieve.
Learning how to transition and become more mindful about what you want to achieve between the different parts of your life can be extremely beneficial. When we take time to transition from one part of our day into another we have the opportunity to set an intention. How do you want to show up in your interactions with your partner, your children, or your friends?
How to be more present.
Instead of letting the events of the day run our mood we can cultivate an attitude of mindfulness to keep us in the present moment. Admittedly it can be difficult to disentangle from work, even when you have the best of intentions. Dr. Adam Fraser, a peak performance researcher who helps organisations and individuals expand their potential suggests that what we need is a formal zone of transition or a ‘third space’ to assist us to move between the worlds of work and home.
The third space is not a specific activity in itself, it’s a set of thoughts / stages that you work through perhaps while doing another activity (like commuting) that can then help you move into the next activity being present and grounded.
So in this model, the ‘First Space’ is what you’re doing now. The ‘Second Space’ is what you’re about to do and the ‘Third Space’ is the gap in the middle,” Different environments require different things from each of us. At work, you probably need to be task-driven and efficient, but at home you need to be connected and relaxed – and that’s why, when you find your Third Space, you can transition between those two. While you’re in that third space practice the following three steps of reflect, rest, and reset to allow you to show up at home as your best self.
As you move away from your work-day, reflect on it. Make sense of it. Perhaps it might help you to quickly make a physical list of the tasks that need to be carried over for the next day so you don’t have to keep remembering it in the space between.
Often when we think about what’s happening in our lives we have a very negative perspective on it so challenge yourself to think about ‘what went well today? What did I achieve today? How did I get better today?’ When people at the end of their day look at what they’ve achieved and how they grew, they tend to feel greater levels of happiness with life.
Use this stage to calm your mind and find a sense of stillness and balance so you don’t move onto the next task with racing thoughts. Depending on time, take a few deep breaths, do a puzzle or something to get your mind working in a different way. Perhaps you love to get out into nature so a quick stroll around the block actively taking the time to look and appreciate your environment might be something that suits you. This activity can be anything that works for you, it doesn’t have to take a long time; the important element is that once you’ve completed it you feel recharged.
Align your mindset with what is about to happen. Ask yourself what your intention is. Do you want to enjoy time with your loved ones? Think about how you’re going to show up when you walk through that door. What’s your intention? How do you have to behave to get that intention?
Get really specific. Set a very specific intention and give yourself actionable steps to carry out that communicate that mood and attitude. While this technique is simple, it does require some practice.
Living in the moment
How might your life change if you were able to put aside the stresses of the workday and show up in your personal life fully in the moment? When you take the time to reflect, rest and rest you allow yourself to recalibrate. By focusing in on your intention for the interactions that will follow you can bring your best self.
This is a simple yet exceptionally effective technique that you can easily integrate into your life in just 5 – 10 minutes a day. With regular practise you’ll notice a different quality to your interactions. If you’ve tried this, I’d love to hear about how it’s changed your life!