It’s estimated that you will spend one-third of your life working. Think about how much your job takes up your whole day, and your whole week — every week. Even a job you love and are passionate about can be very demanding when it consumes this much of your adult life, but working through a job that is severely impacting your mental health negatively when you work so many hours during the week isn’t going to do your wellbeing any good. Not only that but when you spend so many hours of your life working, you want it to be within a rewarding career that you can feel good about.
If you’re trying to arrange your thoughts and feelings regarding a negative work situation, and are trying to plan the key steps to finding a more positive career path, read this guide to find out more about wellbeing and how to achieve a rewarding career.
How Your Career Can Affect Your Mental Health
A negative career path can affect your mental health in many ways. Not only that, but it can affect your physical health too. A job which you are gaining no fulfillment out of can make you begin to doubt your own career path, and perhaps result in low confidence or low self-esteem. Anxiety can easily build-up, and stress can mount. Mental health conditions such as depression can arise from job situations that leave you in a low state.
As a result of diminished mental health, you may then be suffering from a lack of motivation regarding other healthy habits in your life, such as eating properly and exercising. Having a job which you hold resentment for can make it very easy to eat unhealthy comfort food and lack the motivation to exercise at all. Stress, anxiety and mental health issues can also lead to unhealthy weight fluctuations (either loss or gain).
Signs That Your Mental Health is Being Affected By Your Job
The important thing to remember when considering how your job is affecting your wellbeing is that there is a difference between a few off days and severe negative impact.
Every job has its ups and downs, and while you may be finding a lot of negativity at the moment, this may not mean that your mental health is being affected overall. What’s more important is understanding the vital red flags which will tell you that your well-being and mental health is being severely compromised. These red flags may not always be obvious to you, as it’s easy to fall into a routine or perhaps be in denial about any job which may be negatively impacting you.
So what are the signs that your mental health is being affected by your job?
You withdraw within yourself at work
Maybe you used to get along with your coworkers but now find yourself not wanting to interact with them or socialize with them. Or, maybe you never socialized with them but now find yourself wanting to even less. In fact, you may find yourself staying as quiet and reclusive as possible during the working day.
You are anxious whilst at work
You may also experience trepidation before arriving at work, and anxiety once home when thinking about the next day. Also, you may find it impossible to relax during the working day, and maybe even feel scared regarding something within your job role.
Your sleep is affected
This could be that you aren’t able to fall asleep at all, you are sleeping too much, or you find yourself lying in bed with anxiety, thinking about your job. You may also find that you’re continually exhausted no matter how much sleep you get.
You are irritable at work
Perhaps everything has simply come to a head and you are easily angered by the smallest things. This can be a sign that you’ve completely lost your patience with your job, your working environment, or your coworkers.
You can never relax — even when you’re not at work
The negative impact of your job may be affecting your entire life. You may find it impossible to relax or feel positive at any stage of your normal week, even when at home after work, or during your day off.
You dread it
It’s as simple as that — you dread going into work, and that’s all you can think about.
You’ve stopped trying
This could apply to many things. It could be within your personal routine, your effort to look professional for work, or with your work itself. If you’ve simply given up and don’t care about your daily tasks, this is a red flag — especially if you are usually a hard-working person.
You don’t feel appreciated
If you are constantly dwelling on feelings of neglect from your workplace, are negative about the lack of opportunities, or feel as though you never receive a thank you for your hard work, this can easily spiral into negative emotions.
What Are The Reasons That a Job May Be Affecting Your Mental Health?
It’s not always as straightforward as you simply not liking your job. While this is a key component, there are many factors which may be directly affecting your mental health.
For example, within some positions, it may not be the job itself which is causing your well-being to suffer, but the atmosphere of the workplace, or perhaps other coworkers.
Here are some of the reasons why your job may be negatively affecting your mental health:
- Your commute is too long and stressful
- Your workload is overwhelming and stressful
- You like the job itself, but you don’t like your working conditions
- The workplace environment is negative (for example, small, dark spaces or lack of natural light, or uncomfortable workstation)
- You are working too much for the amount you get paid and barely paying your outgoings
- You don’t like your work
- There is no opportunity for development or progression
- You’re continually overlooked for promotion
- You never receive any positive feedback or praise
- You’re working with toxic colleagues
- You have a difficult boss or manager who you dislike
- You’re feeling as though you are left out or have no friends within the workplace
Just one, a few, or even many of these could apply. Even just one is cause enough for you to suffer from negative mental health.
Why does this matter?
It’s important to pinpoint the reasons why your mental health is being affected by your specific job, as this will be a helpful tool when you come to look for a more rewarding and healthy position.
For instance, if you know that your mental health has been suffering because of a toxic workplace environment, perhaps in your next job you would prefer to work alone, within a smaller team, or outside a busy office, to avoid the same feelings again. It’s important to learn from what is causing your low mood so that you can work to rectify it in your new job search.
Taking Steps to Find a More Positive, Rewarding Career
First and foremost, you need to be honest with yourself about what a positive and rewarding career means to you. Does it mean being free to follow your passion? Does it mean working to help others so that you can make a difference and reap the rewards? Or does your idea of a positive career path mean you can put your hard-working nature to good use and rise up the career ladder, earning more status and more pay?
Your personal career journey is your own, so it’s important to be honest about what a rewarding career means to you specifically.
Examples of Careers Which Can Be Extremely Fulfilling
Maybe you have some careers in mind already which you think would allow you to explore a more positive job position.
Or, maybe you’re not sure what you would like to do and would like inspiration regarding some of the most rewarding career positions. Here are a few suggestions.
1. Healthcare positions
Jobs within the healthcare sector can be very rewarding, as you will be working on the frontline to help people. This could be in a variety of different ways. Healthcare positions may offer mental health care opportunities, physical wellbeing, medical diagnosis, or working with families, such as researching what is an FNP or what are the most in-demand healthcare roles.
You will play an active role in shaping the minds and lives of others, and helping them to learn and grow. Teaching can be rewarding for those who like to help others by acting as a role model and supporting them in their own passions and education.
3. Emergency Services
If you want to help people, but also seek to have a more physical job which will see you actively working outdoors, then emergency service positions such as firefighters or paramedics can be very fulfilling.
4. The creative sector
If you’re naturally a creative person with a particular skill set, such as writing, crafting, or painting, then sharing your work with others and having others benefit from your work can be extremely rewarding.
These are just some ideas for the relevant industries which can offer personal fulfillment. What you consider would be the most rewarding to you is what your focus should be.
Balancing Your Career Goals With a Rewarding Job
If you’re very career-oriented, and perhaps are an individual who always strives for promotions, pay rises or job development, then this can easily hold you back from finding a rewarding career. Often, it can be the case that the most fulfilling career paths aren’t always the best paid, or perhaps don’t offer any opportunity for promotions or professional positions. It can be a common and difficult battle to be torn between a well-paid job you dislike and a job which you would be passionate about for less pay.
However, money isn’t everything. While it’s of course important to pay your bills, you should never let any amount of money affect your mental health if your wellbeing is suffering for a well-paid job which you hate.
Becoming A Career-Oriented Person
The key step in being a career-oriented person, yet one who wants a job they will enjoy, is to first research the dependability and opportunities in positions which you would be interested in, and those which will be rewarding.
For example, when it comes to rewarding career paths, you may have considered jobs that actively help other people. You can then check the opportunities available to you and which positions may be in high demand. Those in-demand positions can then translate to work opportunities and dependable income. It can also include a career option that is personally rewarding and in which you will be helping others.
Or, likewise, perhaps a rewarding career for you means following your passion. This could already be healthcare or positions that help others. It might be something inherently personal to you, which you would like to do for your own fulfillment.
Some people relish busy careers which are demanding, but which offer pay off in the end. They’re happy as long as they can see the difference they’ve made in other people’s lives. Other people may relish a career that holds no stress at all. It can include an easy-going working atmosphere where they are free to explore what they most enjoy.
When seeking a more rewarding career path, planning is essential. You need to get to know yourself and better understand what you need out of a job role, why your current job is affecting you so negatively, and what you can do about it.
Your health and wellbeing is always a priority, so if yours is suffering significantly, then a career change needs to be made. That being said, if you do recognize any red flags that your mental health and wellbeing is suffering within your current job role, that doesn’t mean that you need a completely new career. If you have a passion for your job but you are currently struggling, change may be all that is needed.
It’s a good idea to speak to your manager, boss, or someone you trust regarding your situation. You should mention the problems you are experiencing, for example, if you feel as though your workload is too demanding. It may be that the situation can be rectified and you can feel more supported.