When sadness and anxiety impact your work-life

Dear you,

Have you ever felt overwhelmed, really down, emotionally raw, and very lonely? I bet some of you can relate. When these emotions hang around for a while, you know how tiresome and burdensome they can become.

Someone wrote to me asking how they could manage these unpleasant emotions from affecting their work-life. I get you. Being caught in this kind of head space while you’re trying to be professional sucks. The emotions are distracting and have an impact on our relationships, and on our ability feel good about our work. Unfortunately, the emotions don’t care whether we’re at work or not: they stop by at any time. But there are some things we can do to help ourselves.

 

Tips on how to cope while at work:

  1. Take deep breaths. Your breath is your anchor to calm. These emotions and thoughts can take us on roller-coaster rides. We can go from feeling fine to feeling absolutely awful really fast. So breathe. When you notice yourself getting into a funk, take 3 deep breaths, breathing out slowly, and allow the breath to calm your heart rate and thoughts.
  2. Acknowledge your experience & promise to make time for it later. If you’re at work, it’s unlikely that you have the time to address your emotions and thoughts in a way that will allow you to process and get over them. One way of coping may be to push the unpleasant experience out of awareness, but I’d like to suggest something else. Acknowledge the emotions/thoughts, “I see you. I can’t be with you now, but I will make time for you later.”
  3. Mindfully drink some water. Get up, shift the unpleasant energy and walk to get a glass of water. Drink it with awareness: taste it, feel it in your mouth, swallow it. Be with the water to allow yourself to enter a calmer headspace.
  4. Schedule breaks. Are you on the go non-stop? Do you schedule time to eat, to have a tea-break? When we go-go-go, we give our bodies the message that we are in panic mode – that everything has to happen now. Make sure your body often gets the message that it’s time to calm down by giving yourself time to do this.

Life outside work

Keep in mind that your experiences outside of work will filter into your work life and vice versa. Your self-care during your free-time is of utmost importance.

  1. Take care of YOU. I cannot do my work properly if I am spent of energy, overwhelmed or preoccupied. To be able to focus and be helpful to others, I need to really be there for myself. This means tuning in: what do I need now and how can I give that to myself?
  2. Schedule time for lightness. Make time to be silly. The heaviness of life will drag us down if we spend too much time in touch with it. Make sure to let go every so often. Go out with friends and be goofy. Watch a hilarious movie. Go shopping. Be light.
  3. Make space for the discomfort. Being totally on the light side is not good for us either. The emotions we feel give us information about how we experience ourselves in this world. So take time to look at your emotions in a safe way, in which you feel supported. Keep a journal, speak to a good friend, go to therapy.
  4. Be kind to yourself. When you become stuck in a headspace that is not pleasant, be kind to yourself. You are not failing at life. You are experiencing life in a deep, loaded and very interesting way. This takes up energy and it needs space to unfold. Don’t be your own worst enemy by criticising yourself for having this experience. Treat yourself like you would a good friend, “It sucks you’re feeling this way, I’m here for you.”

 

Thank you for writing to me. I love to hear from you guys, so please, always feel free to write when you have a question.

Sending you love & deep breaths,

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