Coming home. It should be something we look forward to each day as we leave work, but oftentimes leaders don’t make this transition smoothly.
Transitions are so important and few are more important than the transition between work and home. Our workday can really fill us up with so much stuff: stress, overwhelm, information, tension, stories, worries. That is the nature of work.
The problem is that you can end up carrying all of that baggage home with you where it can negatively influence and spoil the sanctuary of your home and the relationships you have there.
When I was still working in the corporate world, I often continued responding to emails long after I arrived home. I ruminated about my day over dinner and often worried about the next day well into the night. I was exhausted all the time. And even when I was at home, I wasn’t really there.
The executives I coach (who have the same challenges!) reap the benefits of learning from my mistakes. By learning to guide my energy and my attention, I can now choose to reset so I can be fully present and let any tension of the day melt away.
Whether you realize it or not, your energy (mental, emotional, physical, spiritual) is all interconnected. Thoughts give way to feelings which influence your behavior and your level of engagement. As you continue to relive events from your day your body physiologically responds, usually in the form of a stress reaction.
Arriving isn’t just about the physical act of coming through the door; it’s also about letting go of what’s happened before and allowing yourself to energetically reset.
To reset your energy requires both your commitment and conscious effort to direct your attention to the thoughts and feelings that help you choose how you want to be when you walk through the door.
You can begin to focus your attention by asking yourself these questions:
- What tensions or worries do you bring home with you most days?
- Where do you feel this stress, physically?
- How have these thoughts distracted you from being as present and engaged as you’d like?
Let your arrival back home mean that this attention is met with renewed energy and relaxation.
Here are some simple exercises to practice on your commute home or as you park your car and transition to home:
1) Notice any mental energy you’ve brought home.
What problems or thought patterns did you carry with you from work to home? Without judgment, just name what they are: worry, self-criticism, anger. View these as just noise in the mind, no different than the noises you can hear around you like the air blowing in your car or the birds chirping outside.
2) Notice any tension that you are still carrying.
Pay attention to both the thoughts and where it’s physically showing up in your body (usually the neck, face, shoulders). Release any tension that’s left over—maybe with a big sigh. Give yourself the space to reset and choose your energy as you prepare to enter your home.
3) Turn your attention to NOW and be present.
Turn off your cell phone and don’t send or respond to emails…at least for a while. If you absolutely must check your messages, allot a specific amount of time to the task, then step away again. Research shows that it’s important to turn your screen off early if you want to get a good night’s sleep.
Eat a healthy dinner at the table with your family, if possible, and talk to each other. My family plays a game we call “Best Part of the Day,” where we name our favorite part or our Top 3 if we can’t choose.
4) Set an intention to meet this new part of your day with interest and openness.
While you may be physically tired, also notice how you might reset your energy now that you’re home. Maybe now you get to spend time with some of your favorite people: your family and friends. What do you have to look forward to? Be curious and open to having fun and laughing, which builds positive energy and endorphins.
5) Keep choosing supportive thoughts and energy.
I say this because if your home is like mine with two kids and a dog, it’s not always peaceful. I mean that in the best possible way, but you likely wear many hats, and one of them might be Mom or Dad in addition to spouse or partner.
Remember that every moment presents the opportunity to choose how to focus your energy. So, keep an eye on yourself, and keep focusing on how you want to be. You probably still have responsibilities, but your home should provide a respite and safe haven for you to unwind and recharge.
There is no need to keep your work day running in the background of your operating system. It’s okay to give yourself permission to leave the day at the door. Just smile and allow yourself to truly arrive. Arrive home.