A reader asked this question: How do you handle going to work every day when your heart is breaking?
Here’s my advice:
During my divorce, I remember times that I’d stay up all night, rethinking everything that went wrong in my marriage. I replayed his words, my words, my actions and before you know it, tears were streaming down my face. On a good night, I was able to get 3-4 hours of sleep. On a bad night sleep would escape me, and my negative thoughts would stay all night.
Like clockwork, I’d begin preparing for work at 7 a.m. My routine was to use as much concealer as possible to cover the dark circles and bags under my eyes, followed by eye drops so you couldn’t see how physically and emotionally tired I was.
I would grab a cup of coffee (although I hate the taste) because the caffeine gave me the boost needed to walk into work with a pep in my step. No one knew about my divorce. I put on the biggest smile, looked my best, and led my team; all of this when my heart was breaking. No one knew until after the divorce was final, when I was able to talk about it without emotionally breaking down.
“How do you handle going to work every day when your heart is breaking?”
This is the perfect question for me because not only did I live it, I now help women navigate this emotional phase as a Certified Life Coach.
Here are 8 tips that got me and countless other women through work during a heartbreaking time:
Try to get up at least 15 minutes early and write out everything you’re feeling and thinking. There’s no right way to do this. The point is to brain dump and get your feelings out of your head. When you close your journal, try to leave your feelings on the paper. Don’t pick them up again as you’re driving, daydreaming, etc…
2. Take a Walk.
If you’re at work and you momentarily lose focus, try getting up and taking a quick walk to grab water. While walking, shake it off, literally, then purposely redirect your focus on work. I’m not advocating being missing from your desk for long periods of time, but a quick walk does wonders.
Literally take a few deep breaths to calm your heart rate and refocus. Fill your lungs with air completely and focus on your breathing. This works wonders for anxiety and focus.
4. Be Present.
Fully engage in one task at a time while at work. Don’t try to take on your entire to-do list within your first hour. Do one thing at a time and do that well. Turn off your cell, no social media, be fully present at work.
5. Engage in Lunch Hour check-ins.
Use your lunch hour to check in with your support system. Honestly let them know how you are feeling. Get all the emotions out and prepare yourself for the second half of the day. Use that time to emotionally dump (as allowed by friends), then get back to it.
6. Have an after work routine.
During the day, I looked forward to doing things other than going straight home and wallowing in my feelings. I picked up a new habit of walking the nature trails (as weather allowed) and the gym. Put on some headphones, turn UP the music, and walk, kick box, yoga or whatever your heart desires. This allowed me to work off steam and eventually improved my sleeping habits.
7. Recite daily affirmations.
I remember writing a yellow sticky note to myself every Monday morning and posting it on the side of my computer. It was only visible to me & served as my weekly positive note to self. One of my favorites notes- “feelings are visitors.” This reminded me that my feelings are NOT permanent. That means there’s an end date to what you’re experiencing.
8. Consider an accountability Partner.
Is your goal to be productive at work? Then find an accountability partner who will hold you to it. You want to pick someone who will gently nudge you out of your emotional funk and get you refocused on your goal. Pick a friend that you can check in with daily until you’re coasting on your own.
I really hope these tips work. Now, I didn’t cover what to do when you work with your ex, but if you need those tips let me know. Know that when your heart is breaking, eventually you will heal and you will learn to accept why this all had to happen. Until that happens, allow yourself some grace and gently get back to you.
Debbie LeSean is a divorce expert and life coach to high achieving women executives navigating the divorce funnel. She is an author, public speaker & founder of the nonprofit, 2LIVE Daily, which helps families navigate the mental health maze. Debbie helps women remove the executive mask to gain clarity on their goals and purpose, and achieve a breakthrough. A graduate of V.C.U. and Liberty University, Debbie uses her degrees in Counseling & Executive Leadership to shift mindsets, eliminate limiting belief and release the emotional heaviness that often accompanies divorce. Debbie is a two-time divorcee who took the time to heal WHOLE before stepping into the “best relationship ever.” To connect with Debbie, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at debbielesean.com.