Let’s face it. That whole separation of work and life can seem impossible at times. Maintaining a sense of professionalism, positivity, energy and gratefulness in the workplace can feel like an impossible and unfair task when there’s a mini or major storm brewing in our personal lives. And still, we’re expected to be present, perform well, play nice (as in get along with others for the greater good), and pretend as if what’s happening outside of the walls of work aren’t happening to the person who just so happens to be within the walls of work.
I’ve had my fair share of days where the mere thought of having to face another human being and represent whichever company I was working for felt like someone asking me to snatch my hair out strand by strand…and I’m talking my real hair. Having to work through years of sickness, pressing family matters, deaths of loved ones, financial nightmares (or so they seemed), and marital issues when said issue was with your (now ex) husband who also happened to be your boss is not for the faint of heart. I mean, who wants to put on make up and a happy face and function in front of thousands on television as I had to at one point in my life or in the midst of any other people? It hurts, frightens and disrupts peace like the dickens to sometimes have to work as if we’re not hurting, frightened or disrupted at least until we clock out for the day or call it a night.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work for 20 years professionally now. In past careers I’ve supervised several interns. For seven years I was the official/unofficial “HR” representative for a staff of up to 25 full-time and part-time ministry workers. I’ve also been able to supervise as many as 40 AmeriCorps members (look us up at www.ywcabham.org/americorps) at one time. One thing all of these experiences and certainly my own have taught me is that humans have issues and sometimes those issues seep into our work or service whether we know it or not, and whether we want it to or not. We all have a backstory that we bring to the big stage of life, even at work. The signs of what those issues might manifest could be change in attitude, calling in frequently, unproductiveness, being present (but not), problems with other co-workers, isolating others, change in appearance, and overall frustration (however it chooses to show that there is frustration).
So what can we do to try to make the best out of some of our bad situations until the bad gets better so that our job, service and sanity stay in tack? Great question. Glad you asked.
- Be honest enough to admit there is a personal problem.
- Talk to someone at work who can help.
- Having someone to vent to and talking to someone who can help are two different things. We should stay away from those in the same situations as we are, or those who are negative who may tend to bring or keep us down. We have to rely on those, like our supervisors or some who have been where we are who can help us strategically cope and continue to function well at work.
- Disclose health problems or need for reasonable accommodations.
- Take time for self.
- A nice walk around the building, a real 15 minute break, an hour at the gym, appropriately timed chit-chat with our favorite uplifting work buddy, or 30 minutes of a meal and 30 minutes of reading our favorite book or watching our favorite Netflix sitcom during our lunch break can mean a world of difference.
- Utilize the Employee Assistance Programs or counseling if offered, especially if it’s free.
- Daily find things at work for which to be grateful.
- We can carry those thoughts through the day and when we return back to what’s awaiting at home.
- Get ample amounts of sleep and rest. (There is a difference. You know?)
- Keep it positive.
- Calming music at our desk, inspiring Post-it notes around our cubicle, refreshing verses we can quickly read when needed at work and a proper mental perspective can help.
- Place problems appropriately.
- We have to be certain not to take our personal problems out on the people around us from 9-5 or 6-2 in my case.
- Our situations will one day change for the better. We want to be certain they don’t leave an inaccurate, lasting impression at work or with anyone.
- Manage emotions.
- We should readily recognize the heightened possibility for an increase in anger, sarcasm, laxness, blame, misunderstandings, discouragement or sluggishness and not let that be what others see in us.