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How To Leave Work At The Office And Be More Present: A 5-Minute Exercise


It’s easy to get trapped in the game of life. 

Stuck, you find yourself seeking money as the means to the life you desire. Like a mouse chasing cheese, you work your way through the maze only to discover that, once acquired, there’s always more to be desired. 

The game continues. And unfortunately the more that you play–the more you seek that which you do not have–the more people are lost along the way. Because the pursuit of materialistic success creates excessive demands on relationships. 

What you may not realize during the course of your intense week is that your mindset and emotional state have a significant influence on those around you. 

Just as striking one tuning fork will cause another other to resonate at the same frequency, our interconnectedness means that your loved ones are impacted by your feelings. Whether they are aware of it or not, the people you love all feel the weight of your stress. The pressure of your pursuit. And the intensity of your focus. 

And that’s what makes this lifestyle so difficult. When you choose a career as an entrepreneur, executive, or other demanding position, it’s difficult not to bring that work home with you. 

It’s near impossible to be unaffected by a demanding day. When your career is exceptionally challenging–requiring a reservoir of mental and emotional energy–it’s often your loved ones that draw the short end of the stick. But there are ways to change that. 

One of the most effective ways to leave work where it belongs is by streamlining your transitions. 

While most people underestimate the importance of transitions–time in between major events–I know that they are incredibly valuable. As a depth-oriented executive coach and licensed therapist, transitions aren’t just something I help my clients perfect, they’re also something that I must refine for my own wellbeing. 

When you’re engaged in my line of work–one that often involves absorbing the intense feelings of others–it’s difficult not to bring that home. Over time, I’ve learned that it’s important to mindfully move through transitions so that I can come home and show up as my best personal self rather than as my professional self. 

And to save you time, energy, and effort, I’ve broken this process down into a simple five-minute routine. 

While leaving work, take several deep conscious breaths–mindfully filling the lungs as much as possible and then emptying them completely. Allow yourself to breathe in peace and stillness and breathe out stress, anxiety, and anything else that you don’t want to bring home. 

Then, either before entering your home or upon arrival, take five minutes to yourself. During these five minutes, I want you to practice breathing in the manner I instructed above. 

Close your eyes and allow your mind to settle. Give yourself space to acknowledge any feelings that arise. And then I want you to visualize a few scenarios.

First, imagine that you are carrying luggage. Heavy, these bags are weighed down by all of the tasks and emotions from your workplace.

Really feel the heaviness and knots of stress in your body. 

Give yourself permission to struggle with the frustration, stress, and anxiety that come from such a difficult and uncomfortable burden. 

Then, after a few breaths of holding that weight, allow yourself to set down that baggage. 

Imagine that you are dropping those tasks, thoughts, and feelings. Continuing your consistent breathing, invite yourself to feel a deeper sense of relaxation with each exhale. 

With the stress melting away, change the scene. Now imagine yourself taking off your work hat–that professional role you play all day. Set that hat down in a box. Close the lid. Lock it. And continue breathing. 

Then imagine yourself finding a more colorful and playful hat–the personal hat you want to wear around your loved ones. Put that one on your head and allow yourself to feel the excitement, love, and passion you have being around the people you value. 

Breathe in those positive feelings with each inhale. 

And for the last minute or so, practice gratitude. Name aloud three things related to your friends and family members that you are grateful for. 

Allow yourself to fully experience the feelings of warmth and gratitude associated with each entry on your list. Breathe that love and gratitude. Be that love and gratitude. 

And now, open your eyes and go re-connect with your loved ones. Feel the love, acceptance, and patience that come from something as short and simple as this five-minute routine. 


Where we often go wrong in relationships is when we start treating others like employees, peers, or co-workers. When our intimate relationships are viewed from the lens of business–productivity, efficiency, and profit–they become ripe for miscommunications and emotional turmoil. 

One unfortunate aspect of business and the pursuit of success is that it often closes us off from the depths of our emotions. We become robotic, mechanical, and calculated in our interactions rather than spontaneous and gregarious. And such cold emotional environments are felt by our loved ones, even if they don’t know it. 

It’s often easier to assess your impact in the office than in the home. But your presence and absence in both environments are felt even more at home, which is why it’s important to take responsibility for your impact. 

The most important aspect of becoming an incredible professional is continuing your personal development. Continue fighting the good fight by prioritizing the transition between your role at work and your life at home.

This article originally appeared in Inc Magazine. 

Matthew Jones is a life coach and licensed therapist. His work has been published on, the Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Observer, and more. He is best known for his writings on holistic self-development.

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