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  • Cheryl Duffy

Work performance destroyed by breakup

Updated: Jul 8



Maintaining focus whilst at work can be difficult when you are going through a breakup. Your mind can keep getting hijacked by thinking of the chaos at home. Like re-running the arguments over and over in your head hoping for a different ending. You may even catch yourself checking your personal emails or phone messages to see if your ex has tried to make contact, almost willing there to be a message saying they have made a mistake and everything will be alright. Your stomach is in a knot, you feel sick, you just don’t know how you will get through the day.


The stress and anxiety that your world is falling apart outside of the office environment can sometimes make you feel work is your only safe haven, where no one knows the pain and hurt you are suffering. It is the only place where you can pretend life is fine as you throw yourself into work to keep busy so you don’t have to think about the empty house that awaits you at the end of the day. The empty house void of the welcoming aroma of dinner cooking or the kids running towards the front door shouting ‘yay Dad’s home’. Life as you know it is no longer the same. The only constant in life now is work, the only thing in life where you have some level of control.


Work pressures can be overwhelming as you feel emotionally spent, unable to deal with any more issues as you buckle under the current load weighing you down. You wonder what’s happened to you as you have always been the problem solver, trouble shooter or the go to person to get things done. You may struggle to make decisions due to the loss of confidence as you have been discarded as though you are no longer of any use in your private life and these feelings have spilt over into your work life.


Your gut instinct is to keep your boss in the dark about what’s going on at home. You may think you can handle it, but your performance takes a hit. You may forget to do some vital tasks or snap when an urgent request comes your way or feel overloaded when an issue arises and rational thinking is no longer your go to mode. Eventually your boss calls you in as your performance is out of character and they wonder what is going on. Is it a health issue, a personal issue or loss of interest in your job?. You know you have to come clean and tell them what’s going on, but you may feel like a failure that both your personal life and work life are in disarray. This makes your self-worth plummet even further.


As an employer there are some key things you can do to help your employee who is going through a tough time at home –

1. Let them know if they need to talk, your door is always open

2. Offer them some time off to relieve some of the pressure

3. Suggest they see their doctor for medical advice on how to cope

4. Assess work priorities to reduce the workload to extend deadlines on low priority work

5. Allocate some of their work activities to other members of the team. This not only helps the stressed employee but reduces the risk to the business deliverables & outcomes


As an employee there are some key things you can do to help you manage the traumatic personal event and still get your job done –

1. At the onset of the personal issue, let your boss know what is happening so they can help you with extra support

2. Train your brain that as soon as you walk into the office you are going into work mode and not let yourself think about your home life until you walk back out the office at the end of the day

3. Put your phone into your desk drawer and not look at it for missed calls or messages until you have left the office

4. Each time your mind wonders to your personal situation, stop and say NO wait until I get home

5. Seek the help you need via your doctor to help you get through this tough time


The key is not to feel you have to go through this alone. Gain the support you need from your employer, your doctor and supportive friends.


Remember this is just a glitch in life which you will get through in time.


Don’t let your trauma destroy you. Heal and transform you and your life.


Author – Cheryl Duffy


Cheryl Duffy, Mediator, Divorce Coach & Author of The Divorce Tango

The Divorce Centre


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