Coming Home

homeIn a different post, we talked about the frustrating problem of getting sick at the beginning of vacations. We said that this has to do with the difficultly that our bodies have switching from high stress to relaxation, and something called cortisol withdraw. A version of this same phenomenon may be happening in your home almost every evening.

This week we talked with two people about the difficulties they had coming home at the end of a day of work.

It seems a little bit crazy, you spend the entire day looking forward to getting home and the chance to relax, but when you do get home you find yourself engaging in behaviors that are not really at all what you would like to do in the relaxed state. Maybe you have one or two or three drinks to make the transition from high stress to relaxation, but maybe you overshoot and end up feeling either groggy or perhaps even irritable as a result.

Alternatively, you might come home to a busy house that needs you to cook and take care of children. And as a way of dealing with that stressful transition to home, you end up snacking on foods that are not at all healthy for you, and every night you find yourself regretting your decisions, but the next day the same thing happens again.

The people we talked with had developed several strategies that they found effective for dealing with these challenges. For the unconscious snacker, what worked was a routine that involved:

1. Making sure that she was not actually hungry when she got home by eating a high protein snack in the afternoon, even if she didn’t really feel hungry at the time, this was a way of avoiding the craving that made her overindulge in high fat and high carbohydrate foods when she got home.

2. Making a conscious effort to really connect with her family method. Taking the time to say hello and to check in with them about their day rather than just jumping right into cooking.

3. Focusing on conscious eating when she did sit down at dinner. Really trying to experience and appreciate the food, despite all the hecticness around her.

4. Trying to get a little bit of physical activity in before she got home. She found that getting off the bus a couple of stops early and walking the last several hundred yards was very helpful in making that transition from work to home.

Another young man who works as a lawyer in a very high stress law firm found that it was really helpful to institute a ritual of silent reading when he and his wife got home at the end of a busy work day. This allowed him to avoid drinking too much and quickly switching to watching TV or other distracting video options, and allow him to set the stage for a more relaxed and pleasant evening, which has the advantage of improving his sleep and his relationship with his wife.

What strategies have you found effective? We would love to know. Either post a comment here or send me an e-mail.