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It’s tough to focus on work when you’ve just been dealt a blow in your personal life. Work may be the last place you want to be – or you may find work to be a welcome retreat – when you’re coping with a loss, dealing with a breakup, or have newfound financial stress. No matter the circumstance, remember that there are people there to help and taking care of yourself in the process is crucial. These are a few tips to help you balance work while dealing with a personal crisis:

Talk to your manager. To whatever extent you feel comfortable, keep your direct manager in the loop about what’s stressing you out. Don’t be ashamed of your situation; you are an important part of your organization, and it’s absolutely acceptable to run into personal problems. Discuss your options for taking time off and what should happen if you need to leave work suddenly. Having a backup plan in place will put your manager’s mind at ease and help you not stress about work when you’re out handling a personal issue.

Take a look at your benefits. It doesn’t hurt to talk to HR about your issue. You may have some grievance time available, have access to counseling services through an Employee Assistance Program, or childcare options through your work benefits. These services are usually confidential, and access to them is typically free as part of your benefits program.

Keep busy. Work can be a welcome escape from a stressful change in your home life. Make a list of your to-dos and keep it visible on your desk. A visual reminder of what you need to get done will help you stay focused.

If you find your to-do list to be overwhelming, break it down into small, manageable chunks. It’s okay to save the non-urgent tasks for your extra-blah days.

Take some time to think about your personal issue. Self-care through a crisis is crucial. Give yourself five to ten minutes to think about it and then focus on work for the next 30-45 minutes. This cycle will help you refocus and give you balance for managing your work and personal lives.

Head to the gym or take a walk. According to Mayo Clinic, virtually any form of exercise, from yoga to aerobics, can act as a stress reliever. So, before work, after work, or during your lunch break if feasible, take some time to get some exercise and refresh your mind.


Balancing your personal life and your workload while dealing with a personal crisis is stressful. Remember, there are people ready and willing to help, whether it’s your family and friends or your human resources department. Navigating your crisis with one eye on self-compassion and one eye on work will help you gracefully transition back to work while starting you on your path to emotional recovery.  


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