Queered & Careered: 12 Ways to Cope at Work When You’re Just Not Feeling It

This week, you are just. not. feeling. it.

You rolled out of bed, torn from the warm, fuzzy presence of your person (or your weighted blanket) (or your favorite pillow), and as you brushed your teeth and imagined your morning commute, your first honest-to-God thought was: fuck this shit.

There will always be days where you are not feeling it….and as a Career Coach, I am here to tell you: THAT IS COMPLETELY 100% OKAY.

Whether you are pushing your way through the work week after a tough break-up or trying to calm your restlessness on a dull day at the office, here are a few ways you can cope at work when you’re just not feeling it.


1. Reflect on Why You’re Not Feeling It.

How often are you having days like this? Is there something going on in your personal life or do you feel like this every time you go to work? Is there something you can do to make a change? If you frequently feel overwhelmed at work, or in general, this could be the time to seek out professional help. Regardless, there are so many other, potentially cheaper ways, to get through the work day. Read on.

2. If You Can, Take a Sick Day!

Though this is not an option for everyone, it is the first option many of us consider when it comes to time off. Send an email to your supervisor to let them know you’ll be taking a sick day as soon as you can and then spend the day practicing self-care. **Also: if you are feeling mentally or emotionally exhausted, that is just as valid as being laid up in bed with a cold. Use your sick days if you’re lucky enough to get them.

3. Drink Water and Keep Snacks on Hand.

If our basic physical needs are not being met, that can often exacerbate stress and frustration. Make sure to stay hydrated and avoid “hangry” feelings by keeping snacks nearby.

4. Take Breaks Throughout the Day.

We are at our most productive when we only focus on something for 50 minutes. Outside of that, you should be taking breaks to stretch, stand, refill your water bottle, eat lunch, or chat with coworkers.

5. Flex Those Hours.

Ask someone to switch shifts with you so that you can come in later or let your supervisor know you’ll be coming in and staying late for the day. If a few hours will help you to come to work as your best (or at least a better) self, then advocate for it.

6. Confide in a Trusted Work Friend, Supervisor, or Mentor About Your Feelings.

Tell them how you’re feeling and ask them what they do when they are having a bad day (I can bet you they experience these emotions whether they love their jobs or not!).

7. Journal.

Keep a notebook nearby and whenever you start to feel overwhelmed, write about it. Your journal can be a wonderful safe space when you are feeling upset or in need of comfort, both personally and professionally.

8. Make a List of All the Things You’re Going to Buy Once You Get That Paycheck.

Whether you are using this paycheck to pay rent or buy that flight ticket, remembering that we are getting rewarded for our labor can be a helpful way to keep up motivation.

9. Plan Post-Work Activities That Can Motivate You to Get Through the Day.

Sometimes when we’re not feeling it at work, the hours can drag on and on, so why not set some lights at the end of the tunnel? Plan a trip to your favorite bookstore after work or ask a friend to join you for happy hour. If you have something to look forward to, you’re more likely to push through the day with more energy and enthusiasm.

10. Say Affirmations and Show Yourself Grace.

Affirmations like: “I’m doing the best I can” or “I’m proud of myself for persevering” or “I will make the most of this situation” can drastically change how you perceive yourself when you’re frustrated at work. Write some of these affirmations down and put them in a place where you can see them throughout the day. If that’s not possible, then say the affirmations in your head when you’re doing less mind-intensive work.

11. Practice Presence.

It’s so easy to look forward to the end of the day or think about other things when you’re at work. Stay present throughout the day by doing check-ins with yourself. Focus on your 5 senses: In each moment, what are you seeing, tasting, touching, feeling, and hearing? How do those things make you feel?

12. Allow Yourself to Feel How You Feel.

Can we all just agree that pretending like you’re not in pain for 8 hours every day is extremely unhealthy? Find those safe spaces at work where you can cry, scream, let your mind race, throw a temper tantrum, or breathe deep. Be creative and use whatever resources you have to take care of yourself.


I have cried more times than I can count at work. I have berated myself for making mistakes, for being human. There have been times when I have felt so restless that I have stared out the window longing for the clock to hit 5….and this is coming from a person who loves what she does!

Though I’ve never been able to quite capture perfect and I know there are times I have put on a happy face rather than choosing authenticity, I remind myself every day that I am doing my best- and I want you to know that you are doing your best too.

Reflection Questions: What do you do when you’re not feeling it at work? If you have the option of taking a sick day, what have been some of your favorite ways to ground yourself and rediscover balance?

Tiara’s six word memoir is “born with questions in her mouth.” By day, she works as a sassy, affirmation-card-wielding Career Coach. After hours, she is a creative writer, book reviewer (@booknerdspells), and unofficial bubble tea ambassador. Tiara writes angsty fiction and essays about intersectionality, mermaids, reading, spirituality, being queer, and traveling. She hates beets and people who touch her hair.

Tiara has written 10 articles for us.

8 Comments

    • Same only current.

      Retail specific tricks have involved telling clients I’m checking on something for them so I could go in the back and briefly scream into my hand. Or get to have a sip of water! Splashing water on my face has helped at times too.

      Alternatively, breathing in deeply and saying to myself “One day this too shall be annihilated in the death throes of the universe” whilst visualizing the disintegration helps.

  1. This is perfect timing. I just landed my first 9-5 and it is weird. I’m so used to scrubbing toilets and while I am happy I don’t have to scrub shit stains anymore, I do wish I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I used to know everything, not I don’t know what my passion is. I am happy I finally have a salary I can live off of. It ain’t great, but it works.

  2. Perusing this excellent list after a plumbing emergency forced my hand in staying home for half the day.

    I’d also add putting pictures of loved ones in your work space (if it’s safe/you feel comfortable). Seeing my Significant Other’s gorgeous face immediately before facing/performing for a pack of hormonal, angst and attitude filled teenagers has been a phenomenal motivator to Stick At It.

  3. Feeling this right now. I’m working a dead-end job with a boss who isn’t supportive of her staff. I did confide in a different supervisor, who ended up telling my boss, so I unfortunately didn’t have much luck with tip #6. I work a desk job, and I honestly miss my box office work, where everyone was in the same retail-style misery. I would go back to box office work, but my current job pays better than box office jobs, and I get benefits (and the box office where I worked no longer exists). I’m actually thinking about entirely switching careers and potentially going back to school for a second masters (you heard it here first!), so that’s what’s been getting me through the day. I also really enjoy @Quoll‘s suggestion about having pictures of loved ones. I currently have photos of my dog, me & Bernadette Peters, and Stephen Sondheim at my desk. Maybe I should add real life people I know, like my girlfriend.

  4. This could NOT have come at a better time!

    Although I’ve found myself doing many of these things independently, knowing that Autostraddle and Autostraddle-connected folks are feeling this and doing this too makes it a MUCH LESS lonely venture.

    I find my brain pulling punches by getting me to zone out and view my life as a scene in a movie where Peggy Lee’s “Is that all there is?” starts playing and zooms out.

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.