We all know that relationship breakdown is one of the most stressful events in life.

It’s also a common perception that break-up has a negative impact on our performance at work. According to some studies, separation and divorce can “significantly undermine employee well-being and, as a result, costs North American businesses more than $6 billion each year in lost productivity, absenteeism and higher health insurance premiums and stress-related healthcare costs.” (full article by John Tausert and Donna Tosky here http://bit.ly/2ML2q6E)

But this hasn’t always been my experience. And it’s certainly not the case that all my clients under-perform at work during or after break-up.

For some – and I include myself in this – the opposite is true:domestic upheaval can create a boost to productivity, and a lift to motivation and effectiveness.

 Personally, I’ve found that, in times of heartache and separation, my work-life can provide a kind of haven, as if I’m cocooned away from the pain and difficulty of my home-life. At these times, work can allow me to flourish in a way that little else can.

But of course, as with all forms of personal crisis, responses to separation will vary from individual to individual. So what is it that, when our personal life is in disarray, allows some of us to flourish in our working life whereas others of us can hardly bear to even think about it or can’t concentrate well enough to get tasks completed?

There are several strands of answer to this question, but one issue stands out above all others: focus.

It’s entirely possible to channel the energy of our anxieties, problems and feelings into a single, focused output. This means we can be usefully productive even when our hearts are in a mess.

For some, the way to do this comes easily; for others, it takes more practice, and the development of new habits. Fortunately, there are techniques available that can help with this.

For all of us, it’s entirely possible to use work as a way of re-grounding our lives, of finding solidity and comfort and meaning when our relationships are, for whatever reason, unable to do that. Work doesn’t have to be another scene of despair and emotional carnage; it can, perhaps surprisingly, be a place of constructive output and true release.

 

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