Some of us have trouble leaving our work behind at the end of the day and have an unfortunate tendency to bring our stress and other pre-occupations home with us. This not only makes it difficult to recharge our batteries, but can also hinder our non-work relationships and activities.

Jackie and John Coleman (“Don’t Take Your Work Home with You”) offer a number of ideas that might help. For me, one in particular stands out: “have an end of work habit”. I would like to explore this idea further.

Perhaps we could develop a ritual of some sort to help us make the transition from work. Maybe this could be a spiritual practice like some form of prayer or meditation, a stop at a church or park on the way home, or maybe a particular piece of music.

Anthropologists have noted that some rituals seem to be designed to help us make the transition between two identities or states of being. Rites of passage into adulthood have been studies from this perspective; contemporary examples might be weddings, graduation ceremonies, and funerals. Some would say we begin with one identity, enter a liminal or between state for a period of time, and then take on our new identity. The liminal state seems to be important for us to make the transition effectively.

It might seem farfetched, and of course when leaving the workplace we are dealing with a much shorter time scale and usually smaller consequences, but perhaps it would be worthwhile to make a habit of some sort of short ritual that would help us to make the transition out of our work identities.