Stress is contagious. In this age of high expectations and long work hours, it’s easy for men and women to bring their worries and frustrations home and spread them all over their relationships.

You probably dealt with that a lot more as a parent. We often think of the stereotypical grandparent as being retired or semi-retired, and far past the world of the “rat race.” Maybe work stress is a thing of the past for you and you haven’t looked back. You’re probably also enjoying the lifestyle adjustments that came with it, where you take things more in stride, worry less, and try to make the most of the opportunities in front of you—especially with your grandkids.

But today’s grandparents are more diverse than ever, and hard to put in a few categories. On one end, some grandparents are in their late 30s and in the middle of their careers; then, there are plenty of grandparents in their 70s who still work full-time, or close to it.

All that to say … if you’re working a lot, even though you may not see your children or grandchildren every day, job stresses still have a way of affecting other parts of your life.

Also, keep in mind that grandparents who are raising their grandkids or who care for them several days a week also know what stress is. And often it’s daunting and difficult.

So, if this applies to you, let these four ideas be a reminder or a refresher from earlier years:

Be aware of the challenges and stress points.

Many people have a tendency to bring their work home—whether it’s the actual work projects or the way people treat each other at the workplace, which can be very positive, very negative, or somewhere in between. That can spill over into your time with your family, including grandkids. Or maybe the stresses are getting the best of you, where you just want to check out and relax on the sofa after work, and family members get your “leftovers.”

Recognize the value of “decompression time.” 

That time to relax can be important. A few minutes in the car or after arriving home can help you gather yourself and adjust your frame of mind. You might even exercise, catch up on the day’s news, shower and/or change clothes. After a few minutes alone, you can shift gears and be ready for relationship time.

Keep communicating.

Talk about the stresses you’re facing. It’s easy for loved ones to feel like they are going through the stressful work situation with you. But if they are informed about your work stresses, that will help everyone be on the same page, a definite positive. And it can help everyone be more forgiving when someone is in a bad mood.

Realize that sometimes bigger steps are necessary. 

If you’re stressed out or blaming your loved ones for your tension, or if there’s a growing distance between you, it may be time to start thinking about a job change—whether that means a completely new job or an adjustment of hours or schedule. Have a heart-to-heart about your true values and priorities, and whether a change would likely help your relationships and allow you to be a better grandparent. It may be worth earning less money so you can invest in what’s most important.

Don’t settle for emotional disconnection from those who mean the most to you, especially if a high-stress job is part of the picture. Take steps to protect those relationships, starting today.

How do you navigate work and family stresses as a grandparent? Share your insights and connect with other grands on our Facebook page.