If you want a good relationship with your family, make them a priority today and park your work baggage at the door!
Bringing home your work baggage impacts all family members. Too often clients have shared with me that they find themselves taking out their stress from work on their family members. They believe they are leaving their baggage at the office. However, this is not often the case. You can tell you have brought your work baggage home in the form of the stress you display to your family. For example, your family may notice that you are abrupt when they ask about your day. Your response is a disgruntled, “Hmmph! Another bad day!” Or, as another example, you angrily complain about your boss’s latest unfair demands, the computer problem that caused you to miss a sale or your lazy co-worker who called out sick, etc. Whether your response is disgruntled or angry, these are indications that you have not left work baggage at work. As one result, your family may feel offended, ignored, or in other ways hurt by your negative displays of stress. In the worst-case scenario, your work stress may be creating emotional and psychological damage to your family.
When it comes to your relationship with your family, it is a mistake to believe that focusing on your financial well-being will make up for the emotional and psychological damage you may subject your family to from your work stress. Furthermore, it is faulty for you to assume that if things improve for you at work, your relationship with your family will be intact. To have a healthy relationship with your family, making your family a priority by creating a work-life balance is must.
It’s time to create a work-life balance
Although work is an important part of your life, finding a balance between work and other areas of your life is key to maintaining your personal well-being as well having a healthy relationship with your family. The best way for you to find this balance is to start by first looking at your relationship with your work. Since we spend 1/3 of our lives at work, it is important to examine this use of your time. If we are not happy about our work, we tend to have a poor outlook on life, become easily triggered, and experience various health problems. Let’s reflect for a moment on how you have come to understand work and the meaning you attach to an unhappy/unhealthy work environment :
- What words, feeling and behaviors do you attach to the work that you do?
- How do you blend your work responsibilities with healthy self-reflection?
- As a child do you recall positive or negative conversations concerning work related issues?
- How was conflict or difference of opinion handled while growing up and how has it impacted the way in which you handle difficult issues at work?
- How was work ethic taught to you while growing up and what does a healthy work ethic mean to you today?
As you reflect on these questions, consider the areas where you may need improvement. In the next section, I turn to how to create a work-life balance.
How to create a work-life balance
- To minimize or eliminate the negative impacts of your work stress on you family, try to find positive outlets so that work is not the only defining element of your life. Find fun activities to do with your family so that you can relax and enjoy the time together. The more you can do to participate in fun and enjoyable activities with your family, the less time you may find yourself ruminating on issues that might have occurred during the work day. For example, you might want to consider taking your child on a parent–child date or maybe take a stroll to a local coffee shop to chat with your partner.
- If your company is able to reach you on a work cell phone, make a plan that you share with your family that you will respond to phone calls and emails at a specific time. Let your family know that you will not spend several hours responding to work messages. Attempt to be in the moment while you are with your family for whatever time you promised to devote to them.
- Maintain conversations with friends and family members that are not focused on work related issues. Consider talking to them about other life matters so that you avoid excessive complaining about work.
- Realize that you play a role in your career decisions. If you decide that your work is not the right fit for you, put a plan in place that will help you transition into a different department, role, or organization. When individuals believe they have limited choices, it can become frustrating to make changes. Sit down with a professional or close friend and orchestrate a strategic plan to explore your options.
- Learn the process of taking care of yourself. If you are finding that you are using alcohol and other substances to escape your mood be mindful that this will only be a temporary fix. The end result may lead to you acting out of character, putting your job in jeopardy, and most of all, affecting your relationship with your family. If you require professional help, do not hesitate. Remember, getting help models to your family your resilience and strength to make them and you a priority
As a couple and family therapist, Carole Sandy helps families and individuals resolve personal issues. She supports families and individuals by helping them create healthy relationships, healthy work-life balances while offering hope in the face of difficult circumstances.