Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just push a pause button on life while we’re trying to get it together during divorce? Unfortunately, such a button has yet to be invented. And so we are stuck trying to keep up with our responsibilities at work while our emotions and personal lives are pulling us down.
And it’s not easy.
Here are 10 easy things you can do to help make it a little less tough that don’t require calling in sick for the next year:)
10 Ways to Survive at Work When You’re Divorcing
Life doesn’t stop when your marriage does. Here are some ideas on how to hold it together at work while your life is falling apart –
1 – Appoint a Point Person
Depending upon your nature and the culture of your workplace, you may decide to be open and transparent about your current situation or you may decide to keep it under wraps. Regardless of your position, I encourage you to confide in at least one person at work. Choose wisely – you’re looking for somebody who will be supportive rather than a busybody and will be understanding and helpful even if only provided with the barest of details.
Divorce can be very isolating and when you spend the majority of your day around people who don’t know about your situation, it can feel as though you’re in quarantine. Having a point person at work gives you a release valve. A friendly face and an encouraging word go a long way when you feel completely discouraged.
2 – Find a Safe Place
No matter how accepting your workplace is, you probably want to try to avoid tears at your desk or screams of profanity over the phone in the break room. Take a moment to scout out a safe place, a secluded spot inside or outside your work where you can retreat when you need a moment to get yourself together.
3 – Develop an Elevator Speech
Even if you decide not to reveal the unraveling of your marriage, people will notice that something is different. And being questioned when you’re raw can strip away any semblance of sanity and togetherness you are projecting.
So write your elevator speech, a canned and brief response that can be uttered in response to any probing questions. One that I often used – “I’m in the middle of a major life renovation.” Once you write your speech, practice it until you can say it without emotion.
4 – Clear Your Head
Institute an emotional purging ritual that you engage in before you begin your work day. I used a timer set for 8 minutes and a journal where I would write out all of the negativity and fears that arose during the night.
Follow your purge with a few moments of mindfulness. This can be as simple as ten deep breaths with intention and focus. This combination of release and awareness will help to keep your emotions in check throughout the work day.
5 – Block Messages
Divorce has a way of being intrusive. And whether it’s a call from your lawyer about another needed document or a text from your ex about custody, those messages can completely derail your work day. Most of these messages demand attention, but are not emergencies. So block them for the duration or part of your work day and set aside time each day to read, listen and respond to divorce-related news. Just by attending to the information on your own schedule will go a long way to making you feel in control of your emotions.
6 – Get Up and Move
A still body fosters a restless mind. If your job is mainly sedentary or keeps you in one primary location, make an effort to take movement breaks. If you can, strive to move with enough energy to elevate your heart rate, as the corresponding release of neurotransmitters will help to calm your mind and reset your mental state for work.
7 – Schedule Strategically
Some bad days seem to come out of nowhere. But others can be anticipated. If you have an upcoming day that you suspect will be rough – a court appearance, an anniversary, a birthday – use your schedule strategically. Need a day off work? Maybe it’s a good time for a doctor’s appointment. Need something to look forward to after a bum day? Schedule a vacation. Also, if you have control over your workload, you can intentionally ramp it up as a distraction or lighten the load if you need a break.
8 – Find a Centering Focus
Place something in your workspace that acts as a center, a prompt to take a deep breath. A sign that it will eventually be okay. A reminder of what is really important. It can be a picture, a quote or even an object. Think of it as your mascot or slogan for your new life.
9 – Stock Up on Sticky Notes
Your brain won’t work right for a period of time. It’s suffering from a TLI (Traumatic Life Injury) and it’s processing and memory capabilities will be reduced. I used to make fun of my mom for her abundance of sticky notes. And then I went through divorce and papered my own surroundings!
Don’t try to keep everything in your working memory; devise and implement some sort of note-taking strategy. Think of it as an external hard drive for your overtaxed brain.
10 – Get Into the Flow
Work can be a blessing during divorce. Allow yourself to become immersed in your responsibilities. Seek to enter a state of flow, where the outside world fades away and time seems to suspend. Let your work remind you of your strengths and your value.
Above all, be kind to yourself during this time. You’re facing some major changes and it’s only natural that the impact will bleed into your work. And the more you learn to accept and work with the reverberations, the less they will rattle you.