Stress Management Job Stress How to Deal With Emotions at Work By Theodora Blanchfield, AMFT Theodora Blanchfield, AMFT Twitter Theodora Blanchfield is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist and mental health writer. Learn about our editorial process Published on January 14, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Rachel Goldman, PhD, FTOS Medically reviewed by Rachel Goldman, PhD, FTOS Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS, is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in eating behaviors, stress management, and health behavior change. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print The Good Brigade / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents How to Deal With Emotions at Work Practice Self-Care How to Deal With Emotions at Work If you have ever dealt with emotions at work—congratulations, you're a human! Acknowledge that emotions at work are valid and normal, whether they be about something at work or at home. Although there is a time and a place for how you may express these emotions at work, you would be a robot if you never had any feelings about work. You likely care a lot about your job and doing well, and disappointing yourself or others may bring up feelings. Not only that, but we spend more than a third of our waking hours at work. So it is not surprising how our jobs can affect our mental health, or that emotions about things happening outside of work can often pop up during work hours. Here’s how to deal with when emotions at work inevitably do show up. Acknowledge Them Listen to your body. Often, we feel our emotions in our bodies before we can identify them. Is your face burning red or your heart racing? You may be more anxious than you realize. Try not to make any decisions while feeling upset or agitated, if you can. Research shows that our decision-making abilities are compromised when we are feeling anxious. Learn the Company Culture Every company’s culture is different, and some companies may be more emotionally vulnerable than others. Even if you do work for a company that is more open about discussing emotions, it is still wise to practice some boundaries; your CEO probably doesn’t need to hear about your breakup. Find a Safe Person In an ideal world, it would be fine to share how you were feeling with a coworker. However, we know that is not always the case of all coworkers. Find a trusted ally at work that you can vent to when things are feeling hard. Model Emotional Openness If you manage other people or are in a leadership position, you can set the tone to create a supportive environment where your colleagues feel comfortable sharing their thoughts. Embrace Your Emotions But maybe your emotions aren’t a bad thing! They may just be your superpower at work, particularly if you are in a position that is client- or customer-facing. Being in touch with your emotions can help you build stronger relationships and alliances with others. Accept That You Can't Pick Your Coworkers We typically don’t get to choose who we work with. It's inevitable in a workplace, there will be many different personalities and working styles and not all of you will vibe. It’s OK, you don’t need to be best friends with your coworkers—you just need to get the job done. We also know that sometimes these coworkers are the exact ones who cause your emotions at work to arise. Be curious if there's something you can learn from working with them—even if it's just what personality type you don't like working with! Create Boundaries It’s great to enjoy spending time with your coworkers socially, too, but the more you hang out with them, the more entangled your emotions and work will be. This can make job transitions and conversations about compensation even more difficult. On the other side of the coin, do your best to keep your home life at home—your morning meeting is not the place to bring up your fight with your partner. Boundaries are your friend. Prepare Your Toolkit But sometimes it is inevitable that you will feel a lot of emotions at work. At this point, it’s important for you to have a go-to mental health toolkit of things you can do when you are feeling this way. Perhaps this involves dashing out a quick journal entry or note to yourself at your desk, taking a minute to do some deep breathing or even leaving a meeting to get some air if you see no other option than your emotions taking over. Filling Your Mental Health Toolbox With Dr. Rachel Goldman Self-Care Many things that may cause big emotions at work are symptoms of larger problems societally or within your company and are not your fault. Self-care certainly isn't the answer for larger systemic problems, but some of the following suggestions can at least help you manage for what you can control right now for your own peace of mind. Use Your Vacation Days Your vacation days are a part of your compensation. You wouldn’t give part of your salary back, so why would you not use these paid days? Even if you are not currently able to take a vacation, even a staycation may help you charge your batteries so you aren’t a lit fuse waiting to explode. Plus, it could literally save your life—a study by the World Health Organization found that longer hours worked led to an increased risk for heart attacks and stroke. Get Your Sleep Everything feels harder when we’re tired, and managing our emotions is no different. The quantity and quality of sleep we get affect our capacity for emotional regulation. However, this is a cyclical relationship and our emotions may also affect how well and how long we sleep. Step Away for Lunch If you are able to—even if it’s just for a few minutes—step away from work for lunch. Use your time for lunch to eat mindfully rather than wolfing down your lunch at your desk while multitasking. Remember—your brain needs this nourishment to get you through the rest of the day. Plus, those who eat slower report higher levels of satisfaction with their meals. Know Your Limits This applies as much to the people you may work with on a project as much as the amount of work you take on. If you know that a certain person who gets on your every last nerve is going to be on a project that you are able to say "no" to, it may be worth your peace. No job is worth your health. Get Professional Help If your emotions at work feel like too much to handle—or are interfering with your work—it might be helpful to talk to a mental health professional who can help you deal with these emotions as well as rule out any mental health issues that might be contributing to you feeling this way. If you’re not already seeing a therapist, check to see if your company has an employee assistance program (EAP). These programs are confidential and can provide you with both short-term counseling as well as help you find an outside therapist once they have done an assessment with you and know what you’re looking for. How to Find a Therapist 4 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Hartley CA, Phelps EA. Anxiety and decision-making. Biological psychiatry. 2012;72(2). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2011.12.027 Pega F, Náfrádi B, Momen NC, et al. Global, regional, and national burdens of ischemic heart disease and stroke attributable to exposure to long working hours for 194 countries, 2000–2016: A systematic analysis from the WHO/ILO Joint Estimates of the Work-related Burden of Disease and Injury. Environment International. 2021;154:106595. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2021.106595 Vandekerckhove M, Wang Y-lin. Emotion, emotion regulation and sleep: An intimate relationship. AIMS Neuroscience. 2017;5(1):1-22. https://doi.org/10.3934/neuroscience.2018.5.1 Hinton EC, Leary SD, Comlek L, Rogers PJ, Hamilton-Shield JP. How full am I? The effect of rating fullness during eating on food intake, eating speed and relationship with satiety responsiveness. Appetite. 2021;157:104998. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2020.104998 By Theodora Blanchfield, AMFT Theodora Blanchfield is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist and mental health writer. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Stress Management Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.