The First Five Minutes: Tips on Leaving Work Behind

Raise your hand if you've ever brought your work problems home with you. Yeah, that's what I thought. It can be really difficult to leave them behind when you clock out and not allow them to invade your home space, but it's the last place they belong.

We all want our home to be a peaceful and stress-free place that we look forward to heading for at the end of each day. Sadly, that just isn't always the case now is it; so let's try and minimize that as much as possible. Here are a few tips to help keep your home the happy place it should be.

Use Your Commute to Unwind: Spend the first half of your commute time figuring out those last few work thoughts without any noise interference and then begin to let your mind settle. For the second half try to transition into a calmer place, put on your favorite music, podcasts, radio show, whatever and begin focusing on thoughts of your life outside of work. Really make an effort to separate your work thoughts before you get home.

Change Your Route: If you've had a particularly difficult day then try to change up your route home a bit. If possible take a more scenic route and give yourself a little bit more time to just figure things out before you get home. It's ok if you need to stop for a breather and take a little longer getting home, I'm sure everyone will be better off for it.

Put a Time Limit on Venting: If you do get home and just really need to get it out then give yourself a 15 minute window to just spew it all and then stop. Try not to let it fester. If you can't solve the problem right, then there is no point to continue focusing on it and let it ruin you, your family, spouse, or friend's entire evening. I know this is easier said than done, but it can't hurt to try.

Power Off: In the electronic age we live in it is entirely possible for you to be working constantly. Depending on your job this won't be easy, but try to make a pact with yourself that you will not pick up your phone or check your work email for a few hours when you get home. Spend that time taking care of yourself, your family or friends. If your attention is constantly split, then it's almost as bad, and much more frustrating, than not being there at all. You need the break, and others in your life will surely appreciate it too.

Home Rituals: Having calming rituals that you look forward to when getting home can really help with the work to home transition.

Remember to Breathe: I know this may sound cliché, but taking a deep breath before you turn the knob and enter your home will help calm your mind and nervous system and set a good intention for the rest of your night.

Treat Your Home with Respect: If you want to keep your home a calm place for you to retreat to, then check the negativity at the door. It's not easy to do, but with some effort it can really change how you view your home.

• The wonderful "Home Sweet Home" photo shown above is by JM Barclay - prints are available for $49 in JM's Etsy shop.

Image: Prints available from JM Barclay

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Alysha is a photographer and designer living in Seattle who loves dark chocolate, tea, and all things furry. In her spare time you'll find her with paint in her hair renovating her 1919 Craftsman and sharing the process on her blog Old House New Tricks.