Science Says A Bad Day At Work Can Affect You After You Clock Out, So Here's How To Cope
No matter how much you love your job, everyone has bad days at work sometimes. Whether it's a rude co-worker, a dull meeting that lasts all afternoon, or an aggressive amount of emails that just keep piling up on top of each other, it can be hard to shake those negative vibes once you clock out for the day. The thing is, though, whatever's getting you down at your job probably isn't within your control, so if you want to learn how to deal with a bad day at work, the first step is to recognize that sometimes things just won't go your way — and that's OK. It doesn't have to leave you feeling frustrated or bummed out once you're home for the night, when it's time for you to unwind and relax. Though, according to a new study, apparently a lot of people bring their work baggage home with them — specifically, into the bedroom.
The new study, which has been published in the academic journal Occupational Health Science, revealed that experiencing stress at work — specifically, the study notes, interacting with rude co-workers — is linked to a poor sleep schedule. I'm thinking this is probably where that saying "don't lose sleep over it" might come into play, no?
For the study, researchers surveyed roughly 300 couples about a number of lifestyle factors, including their feelings about work, their stress levels, their caffeine consumption, and their sleep schedules, among other things. After reviewing the responses, the researchers found that things like sarcastic comments made at work, rudeness, interrupting or talking over someone in a meeting, and generally demeaning language in the workplace were all linked to poor sleep.
What's more, as a press release from Portland State University explains, "the study went a step further examining sleep problems in the employee's spouse and found their sleep is also affected." In other words, if your partner comes home after a bad day at work and vents about it to you on the reg, that alone might be enough to affect your sleep, even if things are relatively fine in your own job. However, the press release notes, this only seemed to be true in the study for couples who work in the same company or industry.
Luckily, there are ways you can genuinely relax after a crappy work day, or even after hearing about your partner's nightmarish shift, so it doesn't affect either of your sleep schedules. According to Dr. Yashima White AziLove, a certified professional coach, consultant, and speaker, it's all about maintaining perspective. "Despite the challenges and drama you may face in the workplace, you must ground yourself in truth," she tells Elite Daily in an email. "The truth is that place, and the work you do, is external to your being, and most likely external to everything you love and care about. Keep it in perspective."
Those external factors should never be allowed to dictate your internal equilibrium, AziLove explains. When they do, though, Susan Petang, a certified lifestyle and stress management coach at The Quiet Zone Coaching, recommends finding something — anything — to be grateful for in the situation. "Rude co-worker? You learned something about human nature. Mistake in your work? Now you'll know not to do that again," she tells Elite Daily. "Just plain old bad luck and a crappy day? Be grateful for the strength you had to get through it, and remember that every day isn't going to feel this bad."
In addition to focusing more on all the things you're truly grateful for in your life, and what you're learning from these not-so-ideal experiences at work, Petang suggests preparing ahead of time for bad days with little things that can help calm you down at a moment's notice. "Keep a lavender sachet or soap in your desk, and smell it when you're having a bad day," she recommends. "Lavender is great aromatherapy for relaxation." If you're not into lavender, try sipping a cup of chamomile tea, which is also known to reduce stress, according to Petang.
You can also use your commute home to dump the stress and transition to a healthy place, AziLove suggests. According to the coach, this doesn't mean you have to force yourself to "get over it." Rather, "you must have a healthy way to release the very real impact of work stress," she explains. For some, this may mean journaling on the bus or train ride home. "The writing process itself is a release and precipitates healing and a resolve," AziLove tells me. "For others, it may be making a call (hands-free) in the car to a trusted person to simply give voice to your frustration."
Or maybe you find solace in prayer, meditation, or exercise before getting home for the day. "Whatever clears your head," AziLove explains, "and allows you to dump the drama and transition to tranquility before you arrive home, is [what you need to do]."