When a loved one passes away, most employers and colleagues understand it’s going to be a tough time for you. They may be a bit gentler with you, and may understand if you’re not as focused as usual.
When heartbreak strikes through a loss of love, you often experience the same intense feelings and pain you feel from a death in the family—but you don’t usually get that same hall pass at the office. In fact, you may even be pegged as someone who lets your personal life affect your work. But we can’t just turn off our hearts at the office.
So when the world and future you built with your now ex-partner crumbles, you can’t let your employer know you’re wasting hours crying in the handicapped stall or Googling “how to heal a broken heart” instead of working on that big project. It’s OK to grieve, but it is not OK to lose your job. Instead, try these practical tips for staying strong at work through the grief, from someone who’s been there too.
The Early Bird gets the Worm.
Get out of bed! Especially in the early days, charge your phone in a different part of your room. That way, when your alarm goes off, you will physically have to get out of bed to turn it off. In other words, avoid the tardy-inducing habit of lying in bed with some hope your ex has texted or emailed, crying when they haven’t, and then spending the next hour social media stalking instead of getting ready for work.
Let’s Get Physical!
Even if your gym is right by your place, bring your gym bag to work. After a day of holding everything in, there’s something about entering the comfort of your home that will queue your body to release all those emotions, and next thing you know, you’re couch locked. Don’t go home straight away—go to the gym instead and turn those tears into sweat. This will train your brain that your home is not a den of despair, but a place to fuel up and get rest between your successes and accomplishments.
Throw Kindness Around like Confetti.
It’s been said that if you force yourself to smile, it eventually becomes a real smile. Similarly, if you spread happiness, it tends to make you happier. Keep this in mind as you go about your workday. Smile at the receptionist as you walk in, even if it’s the hardest thing you’ll do all day- It’ll make them happy and if there’s any office gossip about how you’re doing, you’ll have an ally who can tell everyone you seem fine.
Plan. Plan. Plan.
Remember that movie where Bradley Cooper had an action plan? Do that. Decide how you want to react in situations like receiving a text or email from your ex during work hours. A great tip: Change his or her name in your phone to something that evokes no emotion—that way when you get a message right before a big meeting, you’ll feel apathy instead of heartache. Being prepared will make sure you have thoughtful reactions—rather than the ones you will regret when you’re thinking clearly again.
The most important tip to remember when dealing with any kind of loss is to be kind to yourself. What you are going through is 100% normal. If you remember to love yourself and be good to yourself, you’ll be back on your feet in no time. I promise.