Be discreet.

Share what you need to share with trusted friends, or your boss if need be, but don’t give unnecessary details to the entire group. Your disclosures should be limited to what they need to know, and should focus on how it will affect your work. Some staff groups are close, and it may be appropriate to talk to the group, or to be more candid with your boss, but try not to release any information that might embarrass you or compromise your reputation in the future. Err on the side of caution so that you don’t “overshare”.

Be organized, on time, and well-groomed.

You don’t need to fake it, but being late, disorganized, and unkempt will only cause you more stress and may damage your reputation. Being on time gives you a chance to settle in and focus, and you will need to be organized, because you may not be yourself, and you may forget important items. Use lists and electronic reminders. Confirm deadlines and communicate in writing for clarity and for future reference. Taking care of your appearance may give you a boost.

Take personal calls in private, and during breaks, if possible.

It is extremely awkward and disruptive for others to witness arguments, emotional outbursts, or to hear private details that don’t concern them. Your boss and coworkers will respect you for not involving them.

Work hard.

It is important to remember why you’re there. Be as productive as you can. If you are unable to get anything done, you may need some time off.

Stay involved.

Don’t isolate yourself. Greet others, and take an interest in their lives. Sign the cards, chip in on the gifts, eat the cake. You may not feel like celebrating, but try to show up, even for a few minutes.

Know when to take a break.

You may need to take some personal time to handle the situation, or to rest. Consult with your doctor to rule out physical or mental illness. Your doctor may recommend a stress or medical leave.

Talk to a professional if you need to.

Your friends and coworkers can only support you so much. You may need to talk to someone who can be a little more objective. Sometimes talking to a therapist can help you to cope or to problem solve. If you are in distress due to a physical or mental illness, you should access help from the appropriate health professional or professionals.

Tara-Anne Powell, M.A.,R. Psych.