You may intrinsically know first hand just how stressful reading your smartphone, work emails, or Blackberry messages are after work hours, but YoungAh Park, assistant professor of psychology at Kansas State University says that detaching from technology completely during non-work hours is critical to stress relief, and the qualify of your lifeat home. Perhaps most importantly, getting your spouse on board to do the same has a huge impact on what is termed “crossover stress,” or stress you feel because of your spouse’s anxiety levels.
“When people are really under stress their psychological and physical resources are drained, so they are less likely to self-regulate hostile behaviors and provide sufficient support for their spouse,” Park says. She eexplains that people who are able to unplug from work activities when off the job experience lower levels of fatigue and job burnout, and have higher levels of positive emotions and life satisfaction than those who remain connected to work-related tasks.
How to do it? Set boundaries–at home, and in the office. Although being connected at all times may be the norm at your work, there is nothing wrong with setting the expectation that during certain hours, you will not respond. Your coworkers and even your boss may not like your “rules of engagement,” but when you set the tone for how and when you’ll respond to issues (and stick to your guns!) people will eventually know not to address urgent issues that require your involvement at that time. Likewise, set a rule at home that everyone–including kids–must adhere to in terms of leaving technology behind. Shut computers down, and put tablets and smartphones in a drawer and out of sight after 8 p.m., or whatever the time is that you wish to disconnect. You can always wake early if you need time to catch up on emails outside or work, but when you fail to set boundaries around your work hours at night, nothing is sacred–including your personal life.
If you’re in doubt. Try it for just a week. Instead of swiping away on your iPad, read a book (the old fashioned kind) before bed. Better yet, talk to each other! You might be surprised how much intimacy you can build by simply having a conversation that gets and receives full attention, and how much more relaxed you feel without the pressure of work always looming nearby.
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