It can happen to the best of us. One moment we’re professional, sharp and efficient and the next, we’re in emotional shambles, our faces leaking and shoulder shuddering. It doesn’t matter whether you start howling with body wracking sobs shaking your entire frame or if your tears are sliding down your cheeks so silently, even your colleague who sits a foot away has no idea: crying at work can be a huge deal and you need to know how to cope with it.
Women have fought long and hard to be taken seriously in the workplace, which is still a daily battle considering most chauvinist attitudes, rampant gender-based discrimination and often a hostile workplace where any expression of emotional imbalance is a potential career minefield. Taking all this into account, crying in the office is a sure-shot path to being viewed as weak, unprofessional and becoming the hot topic at the water cooler.
Whether your boss reamed you in front of your team, or you are a bundle of raging hormones thanks to PMS or menopause, or you just received some bad news but can’t leave the office just yet, try these strategies to deal with those tears:
- Try Some Bathroom Blues: The toilet is the best place to have a private cry. Not only do you get to vent your emotions in relative seclusion, you can blow your nose, splash some cool water on your face to dispel the redness and then fix your face before heading back to your seat.
- Escape To The Snack Room: It might be a good idea to head to the cafeteria, pantry or snack room just so you get out of the main work area. Use this time to wipe your tears and it might be smart to distract yourself with a light snack or a cup of soothing tea like chamomile.
- Control Your Breathing: You’re probably battling jagged breaths and a heaving chest. Instead, just calm yourself by taking deep, relaxing breaths and place your hand on your belly to ensure you are doing it right. Flooding your system with oxygen means it will ease that tightness in your chest.
- Walk It Off: It might help to just get up out of that chair and take a short walk, either pretend you have to get the elevator or take the stairs. Moving around will give your muscles a chance to loosen up and the boost to your blood circulation will help you avoid cramps. Just don’t wander off and return to your seat once the painful moment has passed.
- Postpone The Pain: Just because it hurts so badly right now doesn’t mean you have to give in to the feelings that are threatening to overwhelm you. Instead, promise yourself a good, non-time bound crying session post-work in the privacy of your home and preferably clutching your dog, bestie or a soft pillow.
- Sharpen Your Focus: This might appear to be counter-intuitive advice, but deciding to shelve those feelings for a more convenient time and less judgmental environment could be achieved by simply choosing to concentrate on the tasks at hand.
- Remind Yourself Of Your Strength: When you’re feeling weak and vulnerable, it pays to be reminded of how tough you really are. Feel free to visualize yourself conquering whatever is bothering you and if that doesn’t work, put on your bravest face, take a discreet selfie and stare at it to see what a resilient woman you are.