The average person spends about one-third of their life at work. That’s a staggering statistic, but if it makes you feel down or stressed, it might be because you don’t enjoy what you’re doing. Almost everyone wants more free time and the best work-life balance possible.
However, there’s a difference between not loving your job, and being in a career or workplace that is actually harming your mental health.
A 2021 survey found that more than 1 in 10 New Zealanders feel stressed and burnout at work. Only 52% of Australian workers believe their workplace is mentally healthy. In 2019, 94% of Americans reported experiencing workplace stress.
Notice a pattern?
These workplace issues around the globe can stem from a toxic environment, internal pressure, specific co-workers or employers, along with a variety of other factors that might make you dread going into the workplace each day.
So, how can you tell if your job is truly harming your mental health? More importantly, what should you do about it?
Understanding Your Risk
There are always going to be some career paths that are more stressful than others. Some jobs require more emotional labour, and that can take a greater toll on your mental health. A few of the most common include
- Healthcare workers
- Flight attendants
- Customer service representatives
- Social workers
- Restaraunt staff
Emotional labour refers to how you manage your emotions while you’re interacting with others at work. It takes a lot of effort and can leave you both physically and mentally exhausted by the end of each day. Not only can it cause you to feel more stressed, but that can lead to anxiety, depression, or even symptoms of trauma depending on the type of things you do and see at your job.
Understanding the risks of your career can make it easier to be proactive about your mental health. Make self-care a top priority, and reach out to a professional before you start to fall victim to symptoms of mental health issues.
Surviving a Toxic Work Environment
No matter your job title or how stressful the work itself is, your job could be harming your mental health if you’re involved in a toxic workplace environment.
Do you feel like you’re working around the clock? Are you discriminated against or belittled at work? Do you feel left out when it comes to projects? Do your managers treat you unkindly, even in emails?
A toxic workplace can make it difficult to focus on anything. You might get so caught up in what you’re doing “wrong” that your productivity levels plummet, you have trouble sleeping at night, and you start to experience anxiety over going into the office each day.
It should be up to your employer/manager to ensure you have a positive work environment. If they’re not willing to make changes or listen to your concerns, it could be time to find a different job or place to work. You know your worth better than anyone, so don’t be afraid to transition if your job is taking its toll on your mental well-being.
Managing Your Mental Health
If you’re not in a place to leave your job but you know it’s harming your mental health, the next best thing is to practice self-care. Do something every day that relaxes you or reduces your stress levels. It might include
It’s also crucial to establish a strong work-life balance. You might not be able to shorten the hours of work you’re assigned each week. However, you can make the most of every second you’re off the clock, so your job doesn’t seem like it controls your entire life.
No career should ever get in the way of your mental well-being. Do what you can to understand the risks in your career path, and pay attention to your work environment and the people in it. It won’t take long to determine if your mental health struggles are stemming from the workplace.
About the Author
Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specialising in lifestyle, mental health, education, and fitness-related content.
When she isn't writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.