When Carole King’s border collie went missing in July, she decided to quit her job and devote her time to finding her furry companion, People reported. After a 57-day search, the Washington State woman was reunited with her dog.
We love this heartwarming story of love and perseverance. But how can you get through a personal crisis — and losing a beloved pet definitely counts as one — when taking time off from work or putting your career on hold isn’t an option? Here, experts offer their tips for coping at work when you’re going through a hardship.
Set realistic goals
Sometimes it’s inevitable that what we go through outside of work affects our output or energy on the job. “You can’t expect yourself to be performing at the same level as when you were at 100%,” says Annie Varvaryan, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist. But the key is to be clear with your boss if your work — or your team’s work — is going to be affected. “Don’t hide it,” says Kerri Twigg, a career coach and job search strategist. “See if you can bring in some extra support on some projects.”
Surround yourself with support
Some people’s tendency during a tough time is to isolate, notes Varvaryan. But it’s important to “allow yourself to connect to people you trust or are close to,” she says. Sometimes what we need most is someone to help validate our feelings, but it’s OK if you don’t feel comfortable sharing details with people you work with. If you’re tight-lipped all day, try to connect with friends or loved ones when work is done, says Elizabeth Cohen, Ph.D., a New York City-based clinical psychologist.
In the midst of a tough time, self-care can feel like a lofty, unrealistic goal. But experts agree that even the simplest acts can impact your well-being during a hardship. Twigg encourages packing “lunches that are healthy and nourishing” as a start.
If you worked out a flexible schedule, such as coming in later than usual or leaving early to tend to what’s going on in your personal life, be sure your manager knows how to reach you when you’re not in the office. It’s also important to let people know when you’ll be offline and won’t be checking email or texts. While it can be uncomfortable to have these talks upfront, being direct is often the best way to avoid added stress.
It may not be realistic to take a sabbatical from work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take mini-breaks to restore and replenish you throughout the day. Twigg advises “blocking out 10 or 15 minutes in [a private] room to meditate or just sit in silence.”
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