You had an aggravating day at the office. Nothing went right: an argument with a co-worker, assignments piling up, and you didn’t get much done. Arriving home, you long for some peace and a chance to relax. Then your mate arrives, and all hell breaks loose. You snapped at him like a crocodile when all he said was “Hi, honey. How was your day?” What just happened?
Obviously, your mind was still on work. You brought the day’s stress home and lashed out at the person closest to you.
Workplace stress can make you feel angry, cranky, oversensitive, even depressed or anxious. You can feel tired, irritable, bring on a headache; even lower your body’s immune response, create problems sleeping … all kinds of mental and physical health issues. With that going on, you’re not the most pleasant person to be around – and your mate is there to catch the fallout.
If s/he’s knows you well and knows how you react when you’ve had a bad day he will be patient while you vent and give you a hug. He knows that you’re reacting to something that has nothing to do with him. But when coming home stressed becomes a frequent event, love and understanding can start to wear thin.
Short fuses can also be contagious. Other influences may be in play. He may be struggling with his own stress or may have had a perfectly enjoyable day. You’re perpetuating the same negative emotions that developed at work… aggravation, frustration … when all you both want is to feel good and have some loving one-on-one time with each other.
Either way, your “attack” or black-cloud attitude can provoke a similar reaction in him. The atmosphere is ripe for confrontation or withdrawal. If it happens often enough, coming home to your sweetie won’t feel so sweet – for either of you.
Breaking the Bad Attitude Habit
Recognize why you’re in a bad mood when you get home. Minimize the carryover into your personal life by using some destressing tactics.
When you walk out the office door for the day, do a visualization exercise. When you get to the car, sit a few moments. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Tell yourself mentally you are releasing thoughts of work and any negative feelings associated with it.
Create a mantra that will trigger this release. It might be the word “stop” or the phrase “all is well.” You could use this during the work day and after.
Air your negative behavior patterns with your mate. Before you say anything else, tell your sweetie that you had a bad day and excuse yourself for anything mean you might say or do. Tell him if you need some time alone to decompress.
Ask your mate if he would mind if you talked about your day. Invite him time to do the same, allowing each of you time to vent, sympathize, and give one another some much-needed TLC. Then stop talking about it.
If it’s difficult to drop the subject, create a clear separation between work and home. Make it a house rule not to discuss work at home at all and avoid emails about work, if possible. Or set aside a limited time to blow off steam.
Home sweet home. Preserve the precious relationship you have by recognizing and creating strategies to stop the workplace-to-home stress bleed-through.