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Managing Difficult Emotions in the Workplace

Getting it right before it's too late

Feeling and expressing your emotions are both normal, but as the old saying goes- there’s a time and place for everything. As humans, we are multi-facet, which can cause difficulty compartmentalizing different aspects of who we are and what we’re enduring.

If you’re experiencing difficulty at home and/or school in addition to experiencing difficulty at work, it can become confusing and you may become overwhelmed. Managing difficult emotions in the workplace is important because you don’t want to allow your emotions to create more problems for you.

Here are 8 tips to help you manage your emotions in the workplace.

  1. Get at least 8-hours of rest. The best way to wake up on the right side of the bed is to sleep in it for at least 8-hours. Don’t allow life to rob you of your beauty sleep. Before bed, spend the last 30-minutes doing something to distress like listening to soothing music or spraying your favorite aroma. Be sure to make your bed every morning so when it’s time for bed, you’re not trying to reorganize the bed from earlier that morning.
  2. Address emotions before work. Give yourself 10 – 20 minutes to identify and acknowledge how you’re feeling each morning. Some people may journal while others may phone a trusted person. Whatever you do, allow yourself the time to identify and express how you’re feeling. Meditating or exercising are two good ways to center the mind and alleviating stressful thoughts.
  3. Shift your focus. Once you took 10 – 20 minutes to identify and acknowledge your feelings, shift your focus to your work day. Mentally outline your day by the hour. If there’s a presentation or proposal that day, set aside some time to rehearse. If you have morning patients, review appropriate treatment modalities most appropriate to address their need for the appointment. If you don’t have any immediate deadlines, review your work goals or self-reflect on your professional progress.
  4. Shift your mood. Prepare for work at night instead of in the morning. If possible, pack your lunch (if you don’t order lunch) pick out your outfit, gentlemen, shave your face, ladies, set your hair, pack your work bag before you go to bed so when you wake up in the morning, you’re available to enjoy pleasurable things like taking a relaxing shower, cooking or preparing breakfast, and reading a morning devotional or motivational quote instead of rushing to do a million-and-one things. If your morning at home starts off good, then your morning at work will be good too.
  5. Use your commute time wisely. The average travel time to work in the United States is 25.4 minutes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s a lot of time for difficult emotions to take over. Occupy that time by listening to a great podcast like Beauty, Brains, and Business Podcast, hosted by Dr. Carey Yazeed, PhD., or The Minority Trailblazers Podcast, hosted by Greg E. Hill, read a self-growth book, or have a life-changing conversation with the person sitting/standing next to you on the metro.
  6. Set boundaries. If you’re having personal problems with your partner or family, unless someone is in critical condition, do not take personal calls at work. If you choose to talk to your partner during lunch, do not discuss anything heavy that may cause a shift in your focus or mood. If its school related, do not complete school assignments at work or send school emails during your shift. If you must communicate with a university personnel, set a limited amount of time during your break to address those needs.
  7. Enjoy your lunch. Do not, under any circumstances, take a working lunch if you’re not mandated. Use your lunch for lunch. Close out all work programs on your desktop, put away those files, and indulge in your tasteful lunch that you packed or ordered. Don’t multitask but focus solely on enjoying your meal. Once you’re done, feel free to use the remaining time to make/return phone calls, listen to music, surf the web, and check your social media or whatever pleases you.
  8. Utilize your resources. Sometimes we may need some help managing our emotions. This may be a good opportunity to utilize your employee assistance program to help you navigate this difficult time. A qualified mental health professional can help you develop emotional regulation and combat difficult emotions you may be feeling at work. They may also be able to refer you to a medical professional who’s qualified to prescribe medication to help manage difficult emotions. Depending on the severity of the situation, you may want to have a conversation with your supervisor. Although you’re not required, it may prove to be helpful if you’re experiencing something more acute, chronic or clinical. If you don’t feel that your supervisor will be receptive, then you most certainly may choose not to disclose, but you may want to reconsider whether or not that’s a place you want to continue working.

Let’s be honest- if work comes with its own set of stressors, then of course we’re going to be overwhelmed if we bring outside stressors to work as well. Most of us tend to cherish our home life more than our work life, which is fine. Nevertheless, our work life is vital to financing our home life.

We have a responsibility to uphold at work so managing our emotions is crucial to us performing our daily tasks. If our emotions aren’t under control, then our work is going to suffer. Do yourself a favor and take charge of your emotions today so you can have a better tomorrow.

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