Emotions at Work: 5 Ways to Deal and Still Get Work Done

The average person will reportedly spend more than 90,000 hours of life at work — more than any other activity outside of sleeping. You will encounter days and even extended periods when the actual act of doing your work is hard to reconcile with the other things occupying your brain. Put simply: Sometimes work is not the most important thing.

Regardless of the magnitude of your emotional storm — whether you’re going through a breakup, reeling from recent world events, or grieving the loss of a loved one — below are a few things to help you be a whole and (mostly) functional person at work, even during incredibly trying times. Some of them are obvious, but worth repeating.

1. Be ruthlessly kind to yourself

Take a moment to pause and reflect on how you’re feeling. Are you experiencing stress or frustration? By identifying your emotions, you can better understand their impact on your behavior and decision-making processes. Don’t suppress or ignore your feelings; instead, acknowledge them as valid responses to your environment.

Self-care is one of the first things that flies out the window in times of severe stress. Correct this immediately, because no one else will do it for you. Unsure of where to start, or even what the term ‘self-care’ really means? Here’s a handy playlist of TED talks about the importance of self-care. 

If you do just one thing every day, repeat this mantra: “I am doing my best. I am enough.” Because you are, on both counts.

2. Reach out for support

Everyone in your inner circle wants to be helpful. This is an important part of friendship. While many are inclined to endure hardships alone in a feat of martyrdom, don’t do that. In whatever way you are most comfortable, reach out to your closest friends and give them a heads-up that you need them. Don’t underestimate the power of being vulnerable.

Whether it’s venting to a friend, seeking advice from a mentor, or attending therapy sessions, reaching out for support can help you navigate difficult emotions and build resilience in the workplace.

3. Communicate with your manager

Also at the very least: Be upfront with the person who manages you about the many things you are navigating emotionally. Put some time on their calendar or send them an email briefly filling them in on the situation, and asking for a time to talk further. 

Be honest and transparent about how you’re feeling and express your needs clearly. Constructive dialogue can help resolve conflicts, build trust, and foster a supportive work environment where emotions are openly acknowledged and addressed.

Tell them what you are carrying and ask for their help distributing the load. Even if your manager can’t take things off your plate, they can help you prioritize and manage expectations.

What do you do when you need to soothe yourself? What do you do to de-stress? Make a list of everything that has ever made you feel better, including the wild and crazy things. Then move the immediately accessible ones to the top. Pick three to implement this week

Consider practicing emotional regulation techniques to prevent emotions from negatively affecting your work. Deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation are effective techniques for calming the mind and reducing stress levels. Additionally, reframing negative thoughts and focusing on positive aspects of the situation can help shift your perspective and improve your emotional well-being.

5. Take action (however small or big) every day

Taking action is a key part of moving through grief or turmoil. Stasis will only amplify your frustration and magnify your sadness. Plus, per a Harvard Business School study, “rituals” have been shown to instill emotional resilience in times of grieving. 

The study discovered an interesting behavior: “Rituals appear to be defined by purposeful behaviors designed to achieve some desired outcome and that the specific behaviors that constitute those rituals are less important than performing some form of ritualistic behavior.” TL;DR: It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you do something you believe will make you feel better.

Manage emotions at work

Emotions are an inherent aspect of the human experience, and they inevitably influence our professional lives. By implementing these strategies, you can effectively manage emotions in the workplace while maintaining productivity and well-being. By integrating these practices into your daily routine, you can cultivate a healthier and more fulfilling work environment for yourself and those around you.

Originally written by Whitney Ricketts in November 2016. Updated by Hired Content Team in March 2024.

Source: Talent Acquisition -


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