4 Ways to Stop Work Stress From Following You Home
Live Happy, Shawn Achor & Michelle Gielan
August 20, 2017
Create a protective culture at home to relax and refresh in your off hours.
Positive cultures are based on often unspoken rules that encourage habits that support high levels of well-being and success. Just as a car gets regular maintenance, forward-thinking organizations set up a culture that encourages routines that help recharge and renew employees, such as taking vacation days, meditating as a midmorning break and regularly receiving meaningful praise. These positive behaviors are good for the individual and the company.
Our research has found that if you take 11 or more of your vacation days, you’re 30 percent more likely to receive a raise. (And that positive outcome is not simply because people missed you!) The break from work relaxes your mind and body and puts you back in the performance zone, which leads to better-quality work. Aetna made time for meditation during the workday and subsequently decreased employee health care costs and increased work satisfaction.
We have been experimenting with strengthening our family culture at home so that work doesn’t take over. Try these research-based practices to help set up and maintain a positive family culture:
1. Hold a stakeholders meeting
Too often we live life as it unfolds, without intention. Invite all members of the family old enough to meaningfully contribute to a meeting to discuss family values. What kind of environment do you want to create inside your home? How do you want to spend your time? What are the rules around use of electronics? By identifying your values and setting your collective plan of how you’ll support that vision, you can start to craft a life that follows it. Set up an environment that is nurturing and relaxing, so you get a mental break.
2. Start culture at the door
When we walked through the door to address senior leaders at Kimball International, it was clear what the organization stands for because its mission statement and values are posted at the door. A similar physical reminder of culture at home can refocus family members as they walk through the door after a long day at the office. Post loving messages, a list of values or even pictures of you as a family living those values. Think of this as a visual reset button so you start your time at home with a renewed mindset.
3. Bag up tech
Social connection is one of the greatest predictors of long-term happiness, but we can’t create that with phones in our faces. A study published in the Psychology of Popular Media Culture found that of the women surveyed who were in a romantic relationship, 25 percent said their loved ones sent text messages or emails to other people while they were having a face-to-face conversation. Move your phone out of your physical space so it is not easy to absent-mindedly use it. We’ve experimented with putting our phones in a zip-top bag with a rubber band around it as a reminder. Consider leaving at least one person’s phone at home for the day to get a chance to detox.
4. Sleep your way to the top
Research shows we make more positive memories if we get more sleep. In a study from the University of California, Berkeley, in which people were asked to memorize two lists of words, one positive and one negative, those with five hours of sleep remembered the same number of negative words (about 80 percent) but significantly fewer positive words than those who got eight hours of sleep. Write positive memories with your spouse by hitting the hay together early. You can help your spouse support this positive habit by brushing your teeth in plain sight or turning off the lights in the bedroom to remind him or her that the day is over.
How do you strengthen a positive family culture? We’d love to hear!