How to Stay Focused at Work After a Heartbreak
Did you recently suffer a broken heart? Whether you’re reeling from losing a loved one or going through a painful breakup, you’re likely to feel lonely and find it hard to focus. While taking time off, indulging in ice cream, and listening to sad songs might help you feel better at first, you’ll eventually need to get back to living your everyday life — which means heading back to work. Love coach and author Laurie Davis Edwards tells us that this can feel downright impossible because of the interconnectedness we experience in our lives: “There’s your career, social life, family, health, romantic relationship, and so on, but these areas of life are more connected than we give them often realize. When something happens in one part, the others may feel the impact.”
Don’t beat yourself up if you feel like you can’t just put on your game face or keep your professional life perfectly together when you’re hurting; Davis Edwards reinforces the fact that biologically, it’s not so simple. “Work is an area that is most disrupted by breakups because our brain is encountering a lot of change,” she says. “Dr. Helen Fisher — an anthropologist who studies the brain in love — found that when we’re in love, the region of the brain that is activated is the same that is responsible for addiction. And when we experience a breakup, we experience withdrawal as we would with any other drug.” She explains that this can make feeling motivated and focused especially difficult as you heal.
“Many of my clients share with me that after a breakup they experience brain fog and have the inability to stay focused on a project or don’t feel at the top of their game at the office,” Davis Edwards says. “Others say that they feel as though they’ve lost their drive — they’re not as interested in their career, which may be surprising because it was previously a focus.” Does this resonate with you? Here are five ways Davis Edwards helps her clients heal their hearts.
1. Set aside time to feel sad. “Heartbreak hurts — and sometimes, we want to avoid that pain because it’s uncomfortable,” acknowledges Davis Edwards. “But when you lean into the grief, it allows you to move through the grief rather than staying stuck in the feeling.” She says to think about allowing yourself to feel all the feelings as important emotional self-care. “Set time aside to be sad,” she advises. “If an emotion comes up that surprises you during the workday, you’ll know that you have space to really work through it later so it doesn’t need to play on repeat in the meantime.”
2. Give yourself a pep talk in the morning. Suffering loss can make you question many things, including yourself. “‘Why?’ is the most common question I hear, even for those who are aware of the reason for their breakup,” Davis Edwards notes. “This is also normal if you were the person who broke things off.” Davis Edwards says that because the “questioning mindset” can shift over to the workplace, starting each morning with a positive pep talk can be a useful way to give yourself a confidence boost. “Whether you’re questioning yourself or the right decision for a project, setting your mindset and mood before you walk out the door will make this behavior less likely. What do you need to hear to have a great day? Maybe it’s, ‘You got this,’ or ‘I’m capable,’” she offers. “Tell yourself what you need to hear at the start of the day so if you slip into negative self-talk you can return to those mantras to get back on track.”
3. Don’t talk about your loss during work. There is a time and a place for working through your experience, and Davis Edwards agrees that it isn’t at work. “If you’re close with your coworkers, you may find that many of them want to be there for you,” she recognizes. “While that’s great, it won’t serve you to rehash the details at the office. Save it for a more appropriate time.”
4. Remove reminders from your space. Scan your workspace — is there anything that triggers you to feel especially sad? Davis Edwards says you might want to remove things like pictures or notes so there’s a little bit more separation between your personal and professional life as you heal. “This can be temporary,” she offers. “If you’re not ready to throw things away, you can put them in a box or move them out of sight.”
5. Get clear on your purpose. Davis Edwards believes that heading back to work while you’re still healing can present an opportunity to focus on yourself and refine your goals, especially if you’ve lost some motivation. “‘Ask yourself things like, ‘Why is this job important to me?’ ‘Where do I want to go in my career?’ and ‘Why am I passionate about this?’” she suggests. “Focus on the big picture, and it will help you do the everyday tasks.”
Have you recently gone back to work after suffering loss? Tweet us how what’s helped you heal @BritandCo.
(Photos via Getty)