Do you know how to cope with work? We commit a lot of time to our careers constantly trying to grow and striving for excellence. Many of us come up with goals for ourselves to fulfill our career ambitions and excel at meeting them. You may have heard someone advise you to “separate personal and business” but sometimes life isn’t so black and white.
What do you do when major life events or crises happen in your personal life that makes balancing your work life difficult? You may not be performing at your best but there are ways to maintain a balance to keep you on track. Here are a few tips on how to cope with work when you’re being affected by personal problems.
Set boundaries with colleagues
You may feel tempted to share what’s going on in your personal life with your coworkers but I advise you to think twice before you do. Chances are your colleagues who will probably want to follow up on what you share to check in with you over time. If you’re okay with divulging that information go right ahead, but if you don’t want to constantly be asked about your impending divorce then maybe hold off on the details.
Consider the atmosphere of your workplace. It may not be the best idea to be an open book in an uber-conservative and professional environment. In that case, stick to formal procedures on how to communicate with your boss or HR effectively. If the dynamic is more lax, feel free to share what you deem appropriate. The important thing is to think about the implications of what you share before doing so.
Give yourself time and space
It’s easy to get sucked into work and feel like you need to overextend yourself when really what you may need most right now is just some time and space. Don’t feel obligated to show up to work when you’re simply not feeling well. This does not mean, however, to drop the ball on communication with your boss.
Keep them in the loop with how you’re doing and what your needs are. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking a mental health day or coordinating more telework days for the time being. Once you are back in the office or clinic, try to schedule mental health breaks throughout the days like taking a walk or talking to family. You don’t have to choose between your career and your well-being, the best approach is to regularly check in with yourself and strike a balance between both.
Make use of your benefits
Are you aware of the benefits available to you through your company and healthcare provider? Often we’re not aware of benefits we’re not necessarily utilizing but when a crisis hits it’s best to reassess what’s available to you. Maybe your company offers daycare services, mental health benefits like counseling, or legal services.
Reach out to HR or review your benefits package to make sure you’re utilizing all that is available to you during this difficult time. If it’s not there in writing, don’t be afraid to ask for what you need if it’s not available to you. Everyone has experienced a crisis or difficult life situation at one point or another so chances are your boss will sympathize with you. Communicate with them what you need to perform your best whether that be reduced hours, telework, or a few days off.
Be gentle with yourself
It can feel like your life has been knocked off the tracks and that okay. Don’t hold yourself to the same expectations that you did before things going awry and understand it will take some time to get back to that point. Give yourself time to manage and heal what you’re going through before forcing yourself to get back into the groove of things at work.
Understand that this is a temporary situation that will pass but in the meantime be kind and gentle with yourself through the ups and downs. Keep your goals realistic and achievable for your current state. That way when you achieve them it will be a good positive reinforcement for you to continue working towards more goals.
The beauty of working in healthcare is that everyone understands the impact that an emergency, crises, or difficult time in life can have. We often see it every day with our patients, caregivers, or even with ourselves.
What drew most people to this field is a desire to help people with an underlying sense of empathy that is critical for the work that we do. You shouldn’t expect yourself to be treated any differently during a difficult time in your career. We hope these tips empower you and help you to cope with work through this difficult time. This is the time you tap into your support system both in and outside of work. And remember, this too shall pass.
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