“If we want to live a wholehearted life, we have to become intentional about cultivating rest and play.” – Brené Brown

Everyone has stressful scenarios that come up at work or as a result of their job. The problem is that these stressors can be incredibly difficult to “turn off” or tune out when you’re off the clock. Whether you work a traditional nine-to-five or have an unconventional schedule, it’s important for your mental health that you leave stressful work situations behind when heading into your time off. As a therapist, I have seen clients struggle with various stressful work scenarios and how to set boundaries in response to these situations. While this can be challenging, leaving work-related stress behind can be done.

Here are some common stressors you may face and strategies for how to actually leave them at work. 

Interpersonal conflict

Stressor: You have a heated discussion or argument with a co-worker or boss. Most of us don’t like conflict in the first place, and unfortunately, our culture tends to privilege conflict-avoidance rather than teaching us how to deal with conflict calmly and directly. For that reason, many of us are not good at dealing with any kind of interpersonal conflict, but when the other person is a colleague or, worse, your supervisor, things can feel really tricky.

What to do: While it’s tempting to ruminate about the situation or replay the “he said, she said” in your head, the best way to leave work conflict at the office is to deal with it and then drop it. Rather than venting or gossiping to other co-workers or even friends about the issue, pick one person you trust who’s not from work—your partner, parent, therapist, or a wise friend—and seek out their advice on the issue.

Then, spend a little time giving thought to what you want to say or do. Take some notes for yourself so you can address the issue directly when you return to work. Writing out what you want to say will allow you to have your thoughts organized in one place, so you can put the issue to rest in the meantime.

A supervisor drops a bomb via email

Stressor: Right before punching the clock for the day, you get an email from a higher-up with bad news.


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