1. Take the spotlight off your behavior
Without the distractions of the office and spontaneous interactions with your colleagues, your mind has, in some ways, far less to occupy it and so it may fill in the gaps in an unhealthy way. You may find yourself obsessing over your weaknesses and inadequacies or exaggerating minor mistakes you make. This is a cognitive bias known in psychology as the spotlight effect. In reality, no one is actually paying as much attention to you as you think because they’re all so focused on their own work. So, remove the spotlight and right-size your reaction.
2. Develop an end-of-day ritual
It can be tricky to create a solid separation between your professional life and your home life. You may find your evening hours plagued by work worries. Developing a ritual to close your day is an effective way to restore a boundary. Use the “the backpack strategy.” Think about taking all of the situations that happened during your workday and putting them in an imaginary backpack. Then shrug the backpack off your shoulders and place it in the corner, where it will stay overnight.
3. Stop negative thought spirals
Whenever you find yourself lost in negative thoughts—work-related or otherwise—you can use a thought-stopping technique to ease yourself out of that spiral. When the thought arises, firmly tell yourself, “Stop,” or imagine a red stop sign in your head. Then ask yourself, “How much is this thought serving me right now?” “What’s a different thought that does serve me?” “How can I focus on what’s in my control right now?”
4. Find a healthy distraction
If you find yourself reaching for your phone to steal a glance at your emails right before bed, redirect your attention toward reading fiction or a magazine instead. Remember that the stimulus you put in dictates what comes back out, so choose a distraction that will actually calm your mind. Scrolling social media or reading a work-related book probably aren’t ideal choices.
We’re likely to be living with blurred boundaries for some time. Compartmentalizing work will continue to be crucial, especially for Sensitive Strivers. Making a concerted effort to experience calmer will help you be more creative, productive, and successful.
- Melody Wilding, LMSW