When does a bad day at work become more than a bad day? Is it when it becomes a bad week? When it stops you enjoying life outside of work? When you don’t feel well and start lacking energy to even work?
When work starts affecting your mental health it can have detrimental effects on your career your personal life, and obviously, your health.
I still find it incredulous that you can work on a broken leg: get sympathy, support and allowances made for you, yet mental health often goes unspoken, unacknowledged and any change in performance can become a chat with your manager’, or worse, HR. Unfortunately, whilst mental health at work is becoming better acknowledged, it is not yet being managed in a way that truly supports the individual, you. There is progress, but much to be done. The key with managing your mental health at work and being able to take control is to be aware of the signs that you are being impacted.
Have you ever heard the analogy about the frog and boiling water? They say if you put a frog in boiling water he will hop out pretty damn quick. Yet, sit the frog in cool water and slowly bring it to the boil? Well, then it’s soup for dinner.
Don’t try this at home.
It’s kind of the same with mental health, in this analogy, you are the frog. Most situations start off like cool water. If you ever started a job that was simmering hot water from the outset then I imagine you were out of there pretty quick.
This issue is noticing the difference between hot water and boiling point. The truly toxic environments can teter on the edge of hot to boiling and manipulate you into feeling like the cold water will come. Any day now….
It’s also important to note here, water boils at different temperatures for different people (not literally, I mean figuratively speaking in relation to mental health). One person’s boiling may be the other person’s cool. Just because one environment suits people it doesn’t mean it has to suit you. No job is worth becoming soup over. You are worthy of a career that keeps you warm and fuzzy inside, just to the right temperature.
Signs your job is affecting your mental health.
- You get any of these feelings, most days, at work: Crying, anger, frustration, wanting to throw your laptop out the window, screaming
- Your heart is often racing and you feel on high alert even when doing basic tasks.
- You just don’t have the energy to do things you love outside of work anymore.
- You feel isolated and you struggle to speak to anyone at work about what is happening.
- Feel that no matter what task or project or sale you complete it will not be enough.
- Literally tearing your hair out or losing your hair.
- Feeling dread for starting the working day.
- You are drinking way more than you used to and your eating habits have changed for the worse.
- You struggle to sleep and/or wake up thinking about work.
- You have a sense of resentment towards colleagues and management.
- Any acknowledgements you receive feel empty or pointless.
- When you start a new task or project you feel immediately despondent about it.
- You are physically getting unwell or injured more than normal.
- The only thing keeping you at work is the ‘people’ and even then you don’t socialize with them like you used to.
- The people closest to you have even said ‘you need a new job.’
A bad day stops just being a bad day when it goes on for a number of weeks….
You DESERVE a career and job that you love. If this is happening to you then it may be time to put yourself first and rethink your options:
Don’t go it alone
- Acknowledge the situation is bad and acknowledge that you owe it to yourself, if not your family or loved ones, to take action.
- Talk to someone, a trusted friend or colleague. A burden shared is a burden halved and you don’t have to resolve this alone.
- Ask for help, even if this is out of your comfort zone, delegate tasks at work, or speak to a manager about making the adjustments you need. Frame the adjustment in a way that will benefit the company e.g. not just I need extra help to get through my work load. Try; with extra support on getting through the workload it means I can focus on task A which I know will have a significant impact on (INSERT BENEFIT TO COMPANY HERE).
- Speak to a doctor and request support. It is OKAY to not be OKAY.
- identify where the specific problem is so that you can mentally isolate the source and begin to understand how to change it or remove yourself from it. Is it a person, a task, a toxic work environment (if so – what exactly makes it toxic), is it the hours, the pressure? Get specific.
- Is it your mindset? Now that you have identified the specific problem can you now identify what it is about you that responds negatively to the situation? Is there a pattern? Has this happened before? Is there anything in your realm of control that you can do to change the outcome or experience?
- Seek professional support. A counselor can help you determine the root of problems especially if the problem is possibly being perpetuated by problems that stem from childhood or history outside of the workplace. A career coach can help you identify and get clarity on your goals and help you design an actionable blueprint to get you there.
Look for a new job.
- I speak to many people who view quitting as failing. Yet, speak to any millionaire and they will soon tell you fail fast and fail hard, because it is only through failure do you learn and grow. There is absolutely nothing wrong with waving the white flag and getting yourself out of a situation that does not serve you, especially where your mental health is concerned.
- Job opportunities may come from internal opportunities in your existing organisation or externally.
- Set your intention that you will have a job you love.
You absolutely do deserve a career and job that you love. At the very least, you have every right to work in an environment that does not negatively impact your mental health.
You have the power within you to make a change.