When Matters Get Personal: Coping with Personal Crises on the Job

We all know as professionals to leave our personal issues at home, but sometimes this is easier said than done. After all, divorce, death and other serious problems don’t go away just because you’re in the office.

Staying productive on the job during personally trying times, however, is critical. You don’t want to add “unemployment” to your list of troubles by getting fired for poor work. And more importantly, staying focused on the day-to-day tasks of your job can help you get back on your feet by helping you regain the confidence and sense of order you need to carry on.

It’s not easy to keep on working when other pressing matters are pulling at you. But when stressful personal issues arise—and they do for all of us at some point—there are a few basic strategies you can use to help you pull through, both personally and professionally.

Recognize that you’ll need time to recover from your trauma. If you feel you need to take a few days off from work, then do it, if at all possible— you probably won’t be able to do your best work anyway.

Use this time to focus on healing and treating yourself well. Take walks and allow yourself to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. Protect your health by eating right and exercising. Concentrate on comforting and healing yourself emotionally as well; meditation and prayer (if you’re so inclined) are known stress-relievers.

When you do return to work, do your best to give it your all. This is both for your professional and personal well-being. Throwing yourself into your work can be a healthy distraction from whatever else is going on in your life.

Even the most mundane tasks of your workday can be therapeutic. Treat each modest accomplishment, from getting dressed to attending meetings, as a small step leading you back to your normal life.

While at work, try to focus fully on everything you do, from planning your projects to collaborating with colleagues. You may be surprised to find that hours can go by without your personal problems crossing your mind—and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing your day has been filled with positive, constructive activity.

If the therapeutic benefits of work don’t provide you with ample motivation to focus, remember that other people are counting on you. When you’re going through tough times, it may seem that your troubles are the only thing in the world that matters, but be mindful that you’re still a critical part of the team at work. Your colleagues have always depended on your skills and knowledge so they could get their jobs done, and they need you to be as reliable and professional as you have always been.

Likewise, your children or other family members also still need you, no matter what else you have to deal with. Remember, your friends, family and colleagues have always been there for you, so don’t forget to return the favor.

Recovering from traumatic personal events will take time and effort. Following these principles can help you navigate the rocky road back to normal life safely.

Stephen Wycoff is the franchise owner of the Remedy Intelligent Staffing office in Gainesville, Lake City and Ocala, Fla. Visit their website at www.remedystaff.com.

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