Being a working parent or grandparent is hard—especially when you’re a nurse. You spend your entire shift caring for other people, and when you come home, you’re greeted by a houseful of people who need some TLC of their own.
Then there’s the issue of a split focus. When you’re at work, it’s common for your mind to fill up with thoughts about home: errands to run, bills to pay, birthday parties to prep for. And when you’re at home, issues and challenges from work bleed over into your personal life.
You enjoy your roles, but that doesn’t mean the balance between the two is easy.
One important thing you can do to help alleviate the stress is create for yourself what I call a “Detox Zone.” The idea is to implement a simple, tangible trigger that gives you an espresso of energy and helps you transition between work and home.
Here are a few examples of what a Detox Zone might look like for a nurse:
On your drive home from your shift, do a mental recap of the day’s events. Odds are you already do that anyway. Let’s pretend that there is a gas station somewhere just after the halfway point of your commute. That gas station becomes your Detox Zone. Once you pass it, it’s time to switch mental gears. Leave thoughts of work behind and shift your mind into home mode. Mentally prepare yourself for what lies ahead once you walk in the front door. I highly recommend having some quiet, soothing instrumental music on to help facilitate your transition. Songs with lyrics or talk radio are bad news in this case because your brain doesn’t need to be bombarded with any more “noise” to process. It needs a breather, and it needs some space.
I heard a story about a mother who took a different approach that also works well. She knew she had a problem when she started to dread walking through her front door. No doubt she’d encounter the frenzied activity of hyperactive kids who were eager to talk to her, share projects they completed at school or have her referee the latest skirmish that was already underway.
One day, she decided to enter through the back door. There was a small area—a Detox Zone—where she could hear the buzz of her kids without them knowing she was home. She took a few moments to gently acclimate herself to the new environment, let go of her thoughts about work, take a few deep breaths and say a short prayer. Those three minutes made a world of difference. Stress levels dropped, and she was better able to fully enjoy being in the presence of her family and delight in the lightness that came with leaving work at work.
It’s a simple concept, but what makes it so effective is the tangible trigger that reminds you to switch gears.
Chances are busyness is a constant companion for you. But by creating a Detox Zone, whether it’s a trigger point on your way home from work, the decision to sneak in a back door or even just staying in your car for a few extra minutes before heading inside, you’ll lower your stress levels dramatically and experience a more peaceful balance between work and home.