Do you find it difficult to leave work at work or find yourself worrying about other things when you want to focusing upon something else? You may want to consider creating a threshold ritual to create separation in the areas of your life.
As our lives are heavily scheduled, it is not uncommon to continuously run from one event to the next. One may be at a soccer game but thinking about the deadlines for tomorrow. The areas of our lives easily become blended and with the continuous need to stay connected, there seems to be no time off. Additionally, as more individuals are working at home, there has become less distinction between a work life and home life. Today I want to share a try this at home tip that I use on a daily basis and has helped many of my former clients who work in a variety of work settings.
A threshold ritual is a regular event that one creates to indicate the work day or other activity is over. I want to point out that I will be using work as an example but threshold events can be developed for any activity to assist with preparing for something else. Before we go any further, I want to point out that threshold rituals are not complicated and are often very simple but significant in helping to establish separation from work and personal life.
I first began helping clients develop threshold rituals when I began counseling a nurse who worked in a physician’s office.. She was struggling with always thinking about her patients she had seen from the day and found herself not wanting to do anything after work. After discussion, she acknowledged that she would often do her errands after work and when she made it home she would fix dinner all while wearing her scrubs. As we talked, I pointed out that by continuing to wear her scrubs she was subconsciously reminding her brain about work. There was no point in her day that she allowed for separation from being a nurse to being a Mom or wife. After a week of changing out of her scrubs after work, she immediately began to feel a difference.
Although many of us do not wear uniforms such as scrubs, we can still develop rituals that begin and end our days. Here are a few examples.
- As you dress in the morning, you are reminding yourself you are going to work. Taking the time to change into something more comfortable signifies you are in another area of your life.
- Walking through a door can also be a trigger that you are beginning and ending your work day. I used to work in a buidling that had two sets of double doors. During my short few steps in the foyer between the doors, I reminded myself that either my work day was beginning or ending. I left the stories of my clients at the office and returned to them the next day.
- Organizing a space can be a visual reminder that the day is ending. If one works at a desk, taking a few moments to place everything in order can signify the day is over.
- Turning off a work phone or the lights.
- Scheduling a workout class or other event that allows you to separate from work hours.
For individuals working at home, many of the same suggestions can be used. However, it is also important to have a dedicated work space from home rather than working from multiple rooms. Ideas for those working from home can include:
- Physically close the door to your work space. A closed door signifies the day is over. If you must share the space as an exercise room or some other purpose, consider putting your computer out of site and/or straightening the areas.
- Consider having a work uniform. Stay at home workers are fortunate enough to be able to wear yoga pants and other comfortable options but this also creates no separation in the day. I’m not advocating dressing up but encourage you to allocate certain pieces as work and the others for your personal life. Additionally, consider wearing your hair differently or wearing a watch or other jewelry.
- Stick to a work schedule. Another great benefit from working at home is the flexibility but flexibility can create a constant need to always be “doing” something. Review your schedule and establish hours that are work hours. Tell everyone your work hours and stick to it.
Personally, I utilize a few different threshold rituals.
- As I get into my car each day after work, I use a hand sanitizer that smells good. This ritual is two fold and the aromatherapy helps me take a deep breath but also there is symbolism that I am letting go of the day by cleaning my hands.
- Rather than rush home and make dinner, I often attempt to go upstairs and change clothes. This is another reminder that the day is over.
A few other suggestions could include:
- Walking a dog
- Saying a quick gratitude for your house and family as you park in the garage
- Listening to a specific radio station on the way home.
Creating a balance in our lives is important and tasks do not have to be complicated or difficult. Take some time to establish a ritual that allows you to move from one area in your life to another by creating a threshold ritual.
Do you already have a threshold ritual? What will you try to do this week?
Try This At Home is a weekly series. This series is inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s Happier Podcast where she makes her own try this at home suggestions to make life happier and easier at home. Weekly, I share my own successes and failures as I work towards creating a happier and healthier life.