Psychological Detachment


In the current era where it is ever more difficult to “leave work at work”, there is demonstrated value in psychological detachment, or allowing staff to (mentally or physically) distance themselves from work during non-work times. This has the benefits of promoting recovery from work-related stress and replenish resources needed in the workplace. Detachment can also help to improve well-being, performance, and reduce fatigue. Studies have found that regardless of the delivery format (self-directed or in-person) can be effective. Programs that occur over longer term or are more intensive (more frequently) can be more effective than shorter term programs (but even those still helped!).

Detachment can be seen in two different parts: avoiding or stopping job activities (or processes that involve similar systems) and activating skills and resources that assist with mental recovery. Possible activities include:

  • Mindfulness activities such as those used in mindfulness based stress reduction including body scans, breathing, mindful movement or meditation
  • Engagement and protection of leisure time activities
  • Boundary management by maintaining strong work/life boundaries
  • Emotion regulation by developing techniques that help to support a staff through their difficult emotions and avoid related rumination or anxiety
  • Strategies for improving sleep quality
  • Employees’ own habits that allow them to detach from work such as washing one’s coffee cup or making a to-do list for tomorrow
Notes About this Intervention
  • Resources needed can vary depending on the amount of effort and intensity.
  • Greater positive impact can be seen in older staff and staff who may already be struggling with work stress or mental health.
  • Based on Stressor-Detachment Model

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