- Stress Relief -

Work Stress Hits Home

The far-reaching implications of working in a hostile environment.

office scene of man shouting at coworker

Not only is workplace stress bad for you, it’s bad for your spouse, too.

A recent study published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior surveyed 190 couples about their experiences with common types of workplace rudeness, such as being excluded or condescended to. Their spouses and partners were then quizzed about stress at home and how it affected their work lives. The survey found an intriguing link: An individual’s workplace experience not only affected his or her marital satisfaction, it also influenced the partner’s work performance.

According to study author Merideth Ferguson, PhD, assistant professor of management at Utah State University in Logan, it is common for the target of disrespect to arrive home feeling lousy, and therefore leave more family duties to the partner. The partner, in turn, feels additional stress, which he or she takes to the office. “It’s like three boxes in a row,” she says. “The [stress of] rudeness jumps from the employee box to the home box to the spouse’s workplace, where it interferes with the spouse’s ability to get his or her job done.”

Ferguson suggests using exercise and healthy hobbies to help stressed-out individuals “avoid ruminating on negative experiences.” Activities that take your full mental focus are especially effective, but even a short walk can help wash away the workday.


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