How to Keep Your Bad Day at Work From Following You Home

If we spend one-third of our lives at the office, it's extra unfair if a crummy day at work keeps bothering you off the clock. Whether it's a snippy co-worker, pressure from your boss, or just anxiety about that big project, you deserve a break during your time off. Psychologists have just the thing for it.

Researchers at Drexel University have been looking into the connections between rude colleagues and insomnia. It's not as much of a stretch as you'd think: Repetitive negative thoughts about work can intrude on your sleep hygiene and deprive you of much-needed rest. A good night's sleep can be a hard reset on whatever bad day came before.

Luckily, the route to better sleep involves doing something nice for yourself. Drexel study participants who took part in a relaxing or fun activity right after work had higher sleep quality overall. This could include taking a walk, yoga, or listening to music. Each activity helped the participant detach from the day's events, and from their identity as an employee.

Both managers and employees can take steps to set boundaries around their time. If you're off the clock, refrain from sending or answering work emails. It's possible you may feel pressure to stay involved with your job after hours, simply through unspoken assumptions about office culture. Clarify that your time is your time unless you're being paid for it.

By setting expectations, you're doing your part toward establishing a culture of compassion. Freeing yourself from intrusive thoughts about work is one piece of a bigger, more satisfying (and effective) picture.