Divorce, bereavement, ill health and stress hit even those that outwardly appear as if they have it all and glide through life without a single hiccup; yet for many that are good at concealing what is really going on, when big life moments occur to upset the status quo, it can be hard to let the barriers down and know just how much to confess to our work colleagues and bosses. Here’s some tips to help you get through the tough times.

  • Tell others how you are feeling: This can be a big step for some but you may be surprised how many of those around you had already second guessed that all was not ok. If you can learn to share what’s really going on then you should be pleasantly surprised by the reactions that you get – most of your colleagues will want to help and provide a listening ear. If you find it hard to open up then choose your closest ally at work or confidant. HR is always a good place to go to if you don’t feel comfortable speaking to your colleagues and they may also be able to provide you with some real assistance in the terms of counselling services, lawyers or even sign you off for time off. Taking this first step is the key to recovery.
  • Try to get some rest: When we are going through a difficult period the first thing that can suffer is sleep but that is the very thing that we need to help deal with the everyday. If you are finding it difficult to fall asleep at night because you are anxious, upset or stressed then start considering some sleep-induced remedies including keeping your phone away from the bedroom, having a hot bath before you go to bed and sticking to the same bedtime every night. Going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time each day can help create a routine because when we are not ourselves, our body will thank us for having a familiar time clock.
  • Reduce your commitments: We are all guilty of doing too much and pushing the realms of what is possible each day but whilst it can be good to be busy it can also add to our stress levels if we are trying to juggle too many commitments. If you are the sort of person that finds it difficult to say ‘no’ then you need to quickly improve on ways to protect yourself – your real friends will show quickly who they are by understanding you need a break. You need to put yourself first at this time so be clear and direct without being rude, you don’t need to justify your decision either.
  • Consider taking up a new hobby: This may seem at odds with the advice of point number three but taking up a new hobby may help you turn the leaf over to the new chapter you are beginning whether that is following a separation, divorce, the death of a loved one or your own ill health. Having something new and exciting to look forward to each week can lift spirits – think about all the things that you have always wanted to do and pick one. You will start to feel the benefits immediately of putting into place the plans you have always had to take up the hobby you have often dreamt off but put off and it will also give you the opportunity to switch off from the difficulty that you are currently facing.
  • Reduce the alcohol, cigarettes and bad diet: Blah, blah, blah I may hear you cry, “We know, we know”. It’s a no brainer that too many glasses of wine, another cigarette and the third takeaway of the week is not doing us any favours but we are all guilty of finding it hard to ditch our guilty pleasures especially the ones that give us an instant ‘feel-good’ quick fix, but even if you can reduce these habits just a little it will help not only you look after yourself but realign your thought processes that you are not just on a one-way ticket to self-destruction. Try having a glass of wine every other night, instead of every night and doing some batch cooking at the weekend so you don’t feel like you are cooking every night. If you are finding it hard to quit the cigarettes then try to restrict yourself to smoking after a certain time every day or giving yourself a maximum allowance of cigarettes per day.
  • Keep talking: Once those around you know what is going on, keep talking. You’ll be surprised how human empathy will kick in and they will want to help you but they can’t second guess how things are progressing if you don’t keep the dialogue up so keep talking, tapping into your support avenues, informing HR how you are doing and assessing with your boss how you are coping with your workload and objectives at this difficult time. Most employers will want to support you and retain you as the valued employee you are.

Author: Annie Hayes