The Best Strategies for Balancing Work Life Through a Personal Crisis

Let’s face it—your work life and your personal life don’t exist in two totally separate bubbles. In fact, more often than not, they directly impact each other. A bad day at work comes home with you, just as a large personal crisis is sure to follow you into the office.

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Both situations are undeniably unfortunate. However, needing to focus on your work when you’re experiencing some undesirable (and ultimately distracting!) experiences in your personal life can feel downright impossible.

“Check your personal problems at the office door!” is likely advice you’ve heard time and time again. But, it’s not really all that practical. There isn’t a handy switch in your brain that you can simply flip on and off—although, that’d be nice, wouldn’t it?

So, forget that age-old sentiment that only makes you feel bad about yourself, and instead implement a few of these actionable strategies that will help you make it through the workday even when your mind is elsewhere.

1. Take Time to Process

First things first, you need to reserve at least a little bit of time for yourself in order to process what you’re going through in your personal life. No, you might not be able to take a week off at the drop of a hat, but this pause doesn’t need to be anything extended or complex.

Perhaps it means going for a quick walk before you head into the office or stepping out for a lunch break so that you can refocus. While a three-month sabbatical might be out of reach, that doesn’t mean you can’t have any time to try to get into the right headspace.

2. Remember What You Love

When you’re moving through personal problems, it becomes all too easy to fall into an extremely negative mindset—which, unfortunately, makes it far too easy to pick your job apart. Tasks, duties, and even co-workers you once adored can suddenly become sources of annoyance and frustration.

This is why it’s incredibly important to try to remember all of those things that you really do love about your job. Whether it’s a specific project or your supportive team, it helps to actually make a physical list of those positive things.

Yes, the “stay positive” advice might seem like a tired cliché. But, it can be extremely helpful to refocus on the highlights and the positives when you need to be shaken out of an emotional funk.

3. Lean on Your Network

Your support system—both professional and personal—will be a huge asset to you when you’re dealing with a personal crisis. So, don’t hesitate to lean on your network for help.

Perhaps a teammate can grab the reins and fill in for you on a project while you deal with your personal matters. Or, maybe a close friend can meet you for a quick coffee date to help lift your spirits and improve your perspective.

Remember, leaning on your network doesn’t mean you’re showing weakness or taking advantage. We all need support every now and then. And, as long as you’re willing to return the favor when the opportunity arises, you won’t be looked down upon.

4. Recognize When You Need a Break

All of these strategies can undoubtedly be helpful in getting you through your workdays even when your personal life is falling apart. However, it’s important that you still have the ability to recognize when you just need to take a break, step back, and recharge.

Let’s be honest—some personal crises (such as a family death or illness) are going to require more than a deep breath or a quick lunch break. So, if you need extended time to pull yourself together and come back to your work with a focused attitude, make sure to do what you need to do.

That might mean having an honest conversation with your boss. But, any supervisor would rather have a happy, healthy employee who’s ready to tackle his or her work—as opposed to someone who’s unable to be mentally present in the office because the distractions of personal problems are so overwhelming.

There’s no denying that personal crises can really pull your attention away from your job—that’s natural. But, there are a few things you can do to help yourself manage both your work and your personal problems. Give them a try, and you’re sure to take at least a little of the stress and pressure out of your situation.

Written by

Kat is a Wisconsin-based freelance writer covering topics related to careers, self-development, and entrepreneurship. Her byline has appeared in numerous outlets and publications, including Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, QuickBooks, Business Insider, and more. Find out more about her on her website, or connect with her on Twitter.

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