When Heartbreak Hinders Output: Managing Work After a Breakup


You've got your soy latte in hand, are wearing an outfit that makes you feel like you're in it for the win today, and the weather couldn't be any more perfect. You walk into the office and pass by the usual suspects, happily greeting them as you wind around the building toward your desk. You set your coffee down, position yourself in your chair, and gently lift open your laptop.

In this moment, the last thing on your mind is your recent breakup, until, well, it's the first thing on your mind. It's now been days, weeks — maybe even months — since you two called it quits, but it seems like no matter how much time passes, your heart won't mend. You even feel sick to your stomach at times. The tears, the melancholy — the temptation to dive into social media or scroll through your photo reel of old pics — has repeatedly disrupted your workflow, only adding to the guilt you already feel.

You're not alone. Heartbreak is part of the human condition. The question is: how do you manage it when you're trying so desperately to focus during the work day?

Advice for Navigating Heartbreak on the Job

“When it comes to healing heartbreak — and losses of every kind — there are so many variables, both within ourselves and in the environments we find ourselves in, that it's just not practical to apply a 'one size fits all' approach," said Christy Whitman, a relationship expert and two-time New York Times bestselling author.

With that basis of understanding, take the following advice and apply it thoughtfully, and where appropriate, to your own experience to help alleviate the often-debilitating emotions that accompany grief.

Let Yourself Grieve Outside of Work

One of the most important things you can do when dealing with heartache is to give yourself time and space to grieve the relationship, said Dr. Nikole Benders-Hadi, a board-certified psychiatrist at Doctor On Demand. Set aside some time — outside of business hours — to really let yourself feel and process.

“What you do during that time can vary, but expecting to carry on as usual is a set up for feeling worse. Some people need to be surrounded by supportive friends and family after a break up, others manage by focusing on self-care and doing things they really enjoy," she said. “When you find yourself feeling particularly down, think about a positive memory of the relationship or something you learned about yourself to reframe negative thoughts into something that can help you move forward."

By fully experiencing these feelings, you'll be better equipped to release them. If you feel like crying, cry. If you feel angry, safely express those feelings by writing down your thoughts or venting to a friend. “The only way to get over a broken heart is to move through it. While uncomfortable in the short term, actually feeling your feelings makes the healing process much faster than closing down or numbing out," said Whitman. “Avoiding our emotions creates blocks in our own energy field, which not only makes healing take longer, but can also prevent us from finding new love, or being open to receive the abundance and prosperity we desire."

Consider Taking a Few Personal Days

If you're someone who can compartmentalize or easily distract yourself through the work day, setting aside evenings or weekends to grieve and process may work for you. Some people find this difficult, though, and that's OK. In some cases, taking a few personal days for yourself is an ideal option.

“Consider what you know about yourself when deciding whether you need a break from work," said Dr. Benders-Hadi. “Are you a person who does better when distracted by work for a period of time? Or will needing to 'put on a brave face' at work only make you feel worse? For many people, taking a mental health day for yourself before getting back to your regular work schedule is all the time you need."

If you do take this time off, make sure those hours are productive and have purpose. You can absolutely “treat yourself" to a spa day or shopping spree, but do your best to process feelings, work through your emotions, meditate, and focus on yourself.

Throw Yourself into Your Career

As you begin working through the emotions of a gut-wrenching breakup, channel that newfound energy into your career. “Focusing on work can be incredibly healing and productive when it provides an outlet for the flow of creative energy," noted Whitman.

Busying yourself at work, especially once you've begun healing, can be both healthy and rewarding. Ask for more responsibility, really throw yourself into that upcoming project, go above and beyond what's expected of you, write down and track career-related goals, tackle that side project you've been putting off, organize your office or your inbox, and set aside time to network outside of office hours.

And if those feelings crop up? Carve out some time and allow yourself to feel them.

“Give yourself five to 10 minutes at the start or end of the day to process emotions and then let them go," said Dr. Benders-Hadi. “There's nothing wrong with feeling sad, hurt, or angry when dealing with heartache, but you do want to make sure these emotions don't start to interfere with things you have to do or cause other problems in your life."

Create a Game Plan for Intrusive Thoughts

Rather than expecting those intrusive thoughts not to occur, have a plan in place for when they do creep in.

“Write down an inspirational quote that means something to you, or think of a happy memory that makes you smile," advice Dr. Benders-Hadi. “You can also give yourself an arbitrary work deadline or time limit to help you stay on task. Remind yourself that you have already set aside time to feel those emotions and stick with that plan."

Whitman added, “It can be helpful to keep a journal nearby to express the things that are coming to the surface to be resolved and healed. It's not necessary to give them all of your attention — simply acknowledge painful thoughts and feelings as evidence that you are in the process of recovering your balance. Honor them for what they are and allow their energy to move through you, and they will naturally release."

Bottom Line

The feelings you're experiencing are some of the most complicated and gut-wrenching a human can experience, and you're not alone in your struggle to navigate through them without disrupting your personal and work life. Ultimately, do your best to intuitively pinpoint and address your emotional needs. Create and stick to boundaries for when you've given yourself permission to grieve your relationship, channel your energy into your career and personal goals, surround yourself with loved ones who get it, and do your best to remain active versus stationary in your progress.


Male Managers Afraid To Mentor Women In Wake Of #MeToo Movement

Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.

In a recent study conducted by, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.

What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.

Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.

Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.

While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.

According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.

In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.

Source-Alex Brandon, AP

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of, believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.

Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.

The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.