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Separating Yourself From Your Professional Persona

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Professional life comes with many stresses, responsibilities, and obligations. Individuals are often tasked with solving problems and managing themselves among coworkers. How one conducts themselves in the workplace is not always reflective of who they are in their entirety. It is common for people to embody traits or personalities while on the clock that differs from their attitudes at home. 

It is important to separate oneself from this workplace mentality to give the mind and body a rest from the constant stressof the professional world. While off the clock, separation from one’s workplace persona can prevent stress from developing to unhealthy levels or birthing self-destructive coping mechanisms. 

What Is a Workplace Persona?

One’s workplace persona is comprised of many different elements. It is a person’s attitude and traits in the workplace, with many adopting a more authoritative tone of voice or adjusting their personality and mentality to best accomplish professional goals. It is a collection of behaviors, attitudes, and ways of thinking that define how one acts in the workplace. 

Persona addresses the varying positional dynamics that often change depending on where one ranks within a company, how they are perceived by coworkers, employees, or employers, and their professional ambitions rather than social or personal goals. They also are built around how one would like to be perceived by peers in the workplace.

Workplace personas are a conscious set of traits that individuals want to embody rather than their most natural personality. For some, their workplace persona may be brasher and to-the-point, adopting a way of speaking and thinking that may reflect their professional goals rather than social needs. 

It is common that these workplace personas become a natural transition for one in the workplace over time. An individual can turn their “work mode” on or off at a moment’s notice, creating a stark difference between their behaviors at work and who they are off the clock while with family or friends. 

The Need for Boundaries

While your client’s professional persona may serve a dedicated purpose in the workspace, it also comes with drawbacks. While in the workplace, these personas can provide structure, confidence, and other elements critical to their professional development. It comes at an emotional cost, and it is essential to learn to turn off these professional personas whenever they leave the workspace. 

Several unnecessary difficulties can manifest if one is unable to manage their professional persona, and boundaries are necessary to prevent these stresses from becoming overly prevalent. For many, work can begin to feel neverending, especially those who engage in remote work or are accessible on a work phone at any hour of the day. This stress can make it difficult to completely relinquish one’s workplace persona, even when surrounded by friends and family, affecting how one acts in social situations.  

The inability of your client to separate from their professional persona can also result in them hiding their stress or emotions, causing a build-up beneath the surface in an attempt to maintain the facade of their curated persona. These stresses will inevitably present themselves, prompting unhealthy and self-destructive behaviors to cope with the stress of preserving a professional persona—often in the form of addictive substance use. 

Creating Distance

A few practices can help an individual separate themselves from their professional personas. First, it is important to see one’s social needs as equally important as their duties on the job. While hanging out with coworkers after work can add to a degree of camaraderie in the workplace, it can also blur the lines between your client’s professional and personal life. Engaging in social outlets with family and friends outside of work is necessary to separate their individual needs and professional life.

Blackout times can also be instrumental. By turning one’s phone off after a particular hour or during regular times such as dinner with the family, one can force their mind to be unable to consider work for just a moment. This moment can promote healthy familial and personal practices undisturbed, where a professional persona is inapplicable. 

Others may find that their professional personas are becoming more prevalent due to long hours, overtime, or additional workplace stresses. Utilizing vacation time can be a hard “reset button” that can help those noticing a merging of their professional and personal lives becoming detrimental. It is important to remember that one’s vacation hours are earned through hard work and utilizing them as a resource can promote a healthy work-life balance. 

While each individual will have their professional personas and personal goals, it is important to track how the two may become intertwined to best balance a healthy lifestyle. Working with professionals on dedicated recovery strategies and healthy practices may be necessary to truly understand how workplace stresses may affect their life off the clock or address the prevalence of addictive substances as a coping strategy to create a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Your workplace persona reflects your professional goals, not necessarily your social or emotional needs. At Pacific Sands Recovery Center, we understand the importance of your professional career. We also embrace the need to maintain a healthy emotional state, and your professional goals should not come at a personal cost. Whether you are coping with the stresses of the professional world or the use of drugs or alcohol, we are here to help you today. From detox and residential care to outpatient therapy, we are prepared to help you at any stage of your journey while creating a tight-knit and supportive atmosphere of professionals and like-minded peers to share in your struggles and success. For more information on how we can help you, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation, call us today at (949) 426-7962.

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