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How to stop your partner’s work stress becoming your own.

Many people have been working from home this year, swapping offices and desks for kitchen tables and sofas. Although restrictions are beginning to lift, lots of us will continue working remotely for the foreseeable future.

There are a lot of well-touted perks to home-working, but it’s not always easy. Few people have proper home offices, it’s hard to switch off and suddenly, you’re around your partner 24/7. Tensions are high amid the COVID-19 pandemic and its disastrous impact on businesses and jobs, so it’s easy for tempers to fly — and stress to take over.

Even if you are managing to cope, your partner might not be. So how can you stop your partner’s work stress from becoming your own, while supporting them? Anna Baréz-Brown gives her advice.

It’s crucial to remember that you aren’t in their workspace — and you don’t experience their day-to-day work culture.

Your partner, on the other hand, will be used to it. They will likely be looking for some way to vent to relieve pent up stress and worries, particularly during these uncertain times when situations are perhaps easier to misconstrue as they’re communicated virtually and without the flexibility to confide in colleagues in person to gain a second perspective on the situation in hand.

Creating boundaries is also key, which means removing yourself and creating more time for yourself. Setting household rules can also be an effective coping mechanism. Limit work-related conversations to work hours, creating these time boundaries will ensure you do not let work consume your relationship.

Be empathetic and listen if they want to talk about what is stressing them out. But it’s also useful to suggest coping mechanisms that you’ve found helpful, such as writing worries down, taking regular breaks or having a cut-off point in the afternoon or evening.

Perspective is hugely important. Understand clearly what your partner wants from you. Often this will be to just listen, not to fix the problem. Remember, it is not helpful for someone who has no affiliation with the company culture in question to offer ways to solve the issue. You are not familiar with the environment, so don’t be tempted to try.

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