WORKPLACE / JUL. 21, 2014
version 5, draft 5

How to Work When Your Heart is Broken

You can’t phone in with a broken heart, unfortunately. 

Yet you probably are a bit ’sick’ if you have recently broken up with someone, at least ’love sick’ with symptoms which can include, not only being completely shocked and grief-stricken but also :

  • feeling sick and anxious
  • tiredness from fretful sleep
  • headache 
  • difficulty eating/concentrating

 These symptoms may sound a little lame, but if you come in on a Monday morning ’freshly dumped’, it can be very hard to concentrate on your job. Even worse, if you live with your partner, breaking-up can mean serious hassle as well as heartbreak. You’ll need to shift yourself, as well as your heart, to somewhere new. Breaking-up and moving are on the top ten of stressors, beaten only by death itself. 

So, how do you survive the working week when you’re heartbroken? It’s not easy, or pretty, but it can be done. 

How do you go to work everyday as if everything is completely normal?

You can only really get away with one sob, tops. And if you’re a chap? You probably don’t even get the one sob free card. 

Here is some advice to keep you going until your heart starts beating again:

Go to work. Actually, going to work is quite a good distraction. You see people that don’t want to hear about your romantic disappointments (nor do your friends/family probably, but they have to - that’s the law) So, you have to have conversations which don’t star your broken heart, or the object of your misery. Good. You can also throw yourself into your work and get a bit of light relief from the misery of heartbreak, or if you’re unlucky and don’t like your job, at least 8 hours a day of a different sort of misery.  

Give yourself a few days of checking that it is definitely over via email/text or phone and then vow to ban yourself from checking your messages for sign of romantic life. Life’s too short to live via the refresh button and this checking behaviour can be really distracting and does nothing for your sense of wellbeing. And, surely if it will be fixed, it will be fixed in person? Romeo wouldn’t just send an email, his modern day counterpart would arrive at Juliette’s office with a life-sized flower arrangement made in her own image (probably). Don’t expect anything less. 


Go through your email and arrange a lunch date with someone you never normally go to lunch with - preferably with whom you hardly know. You can’t be a misery-guts because they won’t ask you how it’s going with wotsit and you’ll have to think of something else to talk and think about. An hour’s relief! It might briefly cheer you up to have a sandwich with a new person too.


Heartbreak is a devil for concentration. Before you open your emails, write down a list of tasks that you want to achieve that day. At least get to task 5 before you allow yourself a quick wallow. Wunderlist is a good tool to use and you have the added satisfaction of hearing a little ’whizzy’ sound when you tick one off.

Throw yourself into a distracting activity that you can immerse yourself in completely and that can give you a sense of ’job done’. The more tedious the better in some ways as you can engulf your mind in an activity completely with no room for heart break related thoughts.  

Try and reschedule meetings with people that can be difficult. You don’t want to spend time with Bob from Finance if you don’t have to. If you’re heartbroken you’re likely to be feeling vulnerable and prone to bursts of over-sensitivity. You don’t want to burst into tears over not getting a smiley face returned in an email, so reschedule if you can. 

The last three are important: 

  • Make sure you get enough sleep and try not to go out on a ’school night’. Being tired makes heart break worse
  • Meditation - try and take a class. It’s good to have a break from your own head, and meditation is much easier to stick to in a group
  • Try not to make drastic life changes - heart break is a skewed lens

 Unhappiness can be a deal breaker for concentration and motivation. If your heart is broken, a P45 or pink slip will certainly not cheer you up. Be kind to yourself, immerse yourself in distractions and try to keep a professional head. 

Nothing can take the edge off heart break except our old friend time. While you’re waiting, fake a happy face and try and keep up a productive front until your ’joy de vive’ reboots. 

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