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Crying at Work: How to Do It the Right Way

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

November 28, 2016

In an interview about workplace dos and don'ts, Samantha Bee was once asked if crying at the office was OK, and she replied, "You can, definitely. That's a 'do.'" She then added, "But only if Jon Stewart is your boss because he's really, really nice about it."

Because it's unlikely that Jon Stewart is your boss, needing to cry while you're at work can be a tricky thing to navigate. Recent studies have shown that many people still view crying at the office as a sign of incompetence.

But let's be real: sometimes it's just going to happen. We're human beings. Workplace frustrations along with stress and negativity in the outside world can simply prove too overwhelming. So what should you do? Next time you feel the familiar prickling in the nose and teary eyes, try one of these tricks to find some relief.

Let it all out in the restroom.


Of course, this is the first thing most of us do if we need to have a cry at the office. Although it's not ideal, what with the grossness factor, sequestering yourself in a bathroom stall can offer a brief, semiprivate reprieve from the bustle of the office and you won't draw as much unwanted attention from curious co-workers.

Go outside for a walk.

Fresh air and sunlight help to calm your nerves, while the exercise will boost circulation and blood flow to the brain. In general, walking has been proven to improve mental health.

If you're near nature, it'll be nourishing to be out amid the greenery and open sky, and if you're in a city, it could prove invigorating to surround yourself with the energy of so many people. You might even gain some new perspective with the change of scenery.

Ask an ally to join you for coffee or tea.

Even if this means simply asking a co-worker to have a cup of watery tea in the break room, it will be a relief to have some human face-to-face time. Or text a friend and see if they can meet up for a quick coffee. Releasing some of your pent-up frustrations or fears to a sympathetic listener — even just for 15 minutes or so — can do a world of good and create some mental space again for tackling work.

Book a conference room just for you.

If your office allows you to book conference rooms and you're feeling like you're about to lose it, book a room just for yourself. Dedicate that quiet time alone to crying, meditating, or calling someone you love.

Channel your feelings toward something positive.

When you're feeling helpless and frustrated, one way to regain a sense of control is by channeling your energy into something proactive and positive. Take a break from work to focus on doing something good, like finding a cause online that you feel passionately about and donating money or sending out some emails to arrange a volunteer date with friends.

Taking positive action will serve as a welcome distraction in the short term and will make you healthier and happier in the long run.

Try to laugh instead.

The internet is a vast and magical place that constantly delivers us memes and GIFs with the express intention of making us laugh. Obviously, there's a dark side to the internet as well, but let's focus on the hilarious satire that's all too real, the dogs snuggling babies, and this cat struggling to use a hammock. It's called comedic relief for a reason.