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How Your Job Can Help You Through a Tough Time


We all go through difficult times once in a while. Whether it’s an illness, divorce, grief, or some other struggle that’s got you down, it can be really hard to face the workday when your life is pulling at your heartstrings. But, you need your job, and you recognize the importance of putting one foot in front of the other and carrying on, even though that’s easier said than done. The good news is, if you approach this thoughtfully and intentionally, and if you remember to be kind to yourself along the way, your job might actually be able to help you get through this tough time.

sad man

(Photo Credit: benwerd/Flickr)

Here are some ideas to consider.

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1. Get up and out the door.

Mornings can be particularly rough when you’re going through a difficult situation. Your job bypasses that, forcing you to wake up and hit the ground running. Well, maybe not running exactly, but it gets you out of bed at least, and hopefully out of your head as well. What choice do you have?

2. Make an appointment with yourself to deal with it after work.

Pain must be dealt with. You have to go through this, not around it, as they say. The problem is, you can’t go through it all day long, or you won’t get anything done at work. Plus, brooding on your situation all day can lead to unhealthy patterns that will extend your healing process.

Decide when you’re going to let yourself work on your problem, or just feel the emotions associated with the loss you’re experiencing. Literally set a time. In the morning, when all you want to do is stay home and handle this, decide that you are going to face the day, but that at 6 o’clock, for example, you’re going to let yourself get into it again.

That’s your time to try to work things out, or just do some writing, talk with friends or family, or maybe just let yourself experience all of the emotions associated with the sad reality you’re trying to work through. Setting a time to work through your situation can help you face the day more effectively. When you’re at work and those feelings start to bubble up, remind yourself, “6 o’clock. I’ll go there at 6 o’clock…” It might really help you stay present at work, while still ensuring that you’re going to process what you’re going through, learn from it, heal, and be able to move forward.

3. Visualize your commute as a bridge.

Let’s face it, you could use a break from thinking about this. Work could be a real help in this area. Allow yourself to leave your personal life at home, and your work life at the office. During your commute, imagine you’re on a bridge with your personal life on one side and your professional life on the other. Use this time to transition; see yourself moving toward one side of your life and away from the other. This should help you leave your problems behind for a little while and focus on something else.

4. Use work to boost your confidence in yourself and your future.

The successes you experience at work might bring a welcome mood shift right now. Allow yourself to revel in your triumphs, accept the praise of others, and notice the difference your making for your company or your clients. Chances are, this little kick in your step will help you deal with what’s going on in a more positive and optimistic way.

5. Put some new structures in place.

It can be difficult to focus on work when going through a tough time. Some days, no matter how hard you try, you just aren’t functioning at your normal capacity. Finding a trusted co-worker to confide in, just for the sake of having someone else check your work, might be helpful. Also, staying organized is crucial during a difficult time. This will help you accomplish tasks with less effort and confusion on those days when you just can’t stop your personal life from seeping into your work day.

6. Remember, here you have control.

Work can be a great escape during difficult times, mainly because it is less emotional, and more easily controlled, than what goes on in our personal lives. It can be very soothing to take a problem at work, examine it, come up with a plan, and solve it. This is especially true when you’re going through a difficult time. Allow your work to serve as a much-needed break from the troubles you’re experiencing. It will surely help you face everything with renewed strength and a fresh outlook once you head home.

With all that said, some days it’s just too much. If you need to take a day off because of what’s going on — do it. You might be better able to apply these strategies after a day to yourself to process and heal. You have my permission.

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How does work help you get through tough times? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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