Tuesday, 2 May 2017
Mental Health Awareness Month: How Your Job Is Making You Sick
Work hard and you can have it all. At least that’s what we’re told. A career plays one of the most important roles in our lives, but we must respond quickly to changes in our health to maintain an adequate work-life balance. Here are 3 warning signs that your mental wellbeing is in danger and your job is to blame.
You’re literally sick
A thriving career can be a blessing and a curse. Showing up day after day to a job you hate adds a whole new layer of drawbacks. Something as routine as hitting the sack on Sunday nights or pulling into the parking lot at work can send some employees into a state of panic. Fridays can’t come fast enough, and you call in sick on Mondays. It’s definitely a problem when just the thought of your job changes your entire mood. If you’re overworked and depleted, it will be evident in physical features such as skin, hair and weight, especially when you lack sleep or exercise. For others, it goes much deeper. Constant migraines, recurrent sinus infections or even occasional digestive issues can be symptoms of stress-induced illnesses. Never ignore the signs of high blood pressure, chronic joint pain, depression or excessive respiratory problems. Stress weakens your immune system and sends your inflammatory responses into overdrive. People have been known to break out in hives when they are aggressively approaching tight deadlines or experiencing extreme emotional distress. We often make excuses and never connect the dots between health concerns and work. Too often we attribute not feeling our best to pollen, bad tuna or drama–but it can go much deeper than these superficial causes. Get help to maintain your mental and physical health. Your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or a private health care professional will be there to guide you through your wellness journey. We can no longer pour ourselves into our work or families if we have nothing left to give. Launching a personalized self-care campaign will replenish and stabilize the health we too often sacrifice for success.
You’re overcome by negativity
A newly hired employee sites autonomy and flexibility as vital components to her ideal working situation. Now imagine pairing that employee with an overbearing, micromanaging boss. When that boss is hovering like a mother hen during minuscule tasks such as sending an email or using the copier, it can be instant chaos. Trust is pivotal in a supervisor-employee relationship. When it appears your boss lacks trust in your ability to produce results, it can create discomforting beliefs around your work reputation and your chances for advancement. Self-blame and self-doubt are our worst enemies in the workplace, yet so many ignore their roles in stress-related illnesses. For some, it starts with becoming obsessive or repeatedly replaying the events of your day in your mind. You may overanalyze the suggestion you made during a team meeting or become a worrywart about your upcoming performance evaluation. Now you have a laundry list of questions. Did I get this report right? What will my supervisor complain about next? Is my job on the line? You lose sleep at night because you can’t turn your brain off or tune out the things that feed your anxiety. This brain strain transforms your confidence into overwhelming thoughts of inadequacy. As difficult as it may seem, you must take a deeper dive into the exact issue in the situation. Once you pinpoint the source of your insecurity or paranoia, you’re more likely to address the demon head on and resolve the issue quickly. Whether you address your supervisor or you quit this job, you have to do what’s necessary to keep your peace of mind intact.
Your relationships are suffering
So many employees spend more waking hours at work than they do at home. A peaceful home life creates the promise of tranquility after a hard day. But, what happens when the home is no longer our sanctuary? As much as we’d like to leave work at work, it’s not always that cut and dry. If you find yourself venting to family members and friends more often than you’re having meaningful two-way conversations, that’s a problem. Being in a constant state of stress or fear is damaging to personal relationships. Be cognizant of how a new job or project affects your long-term behavior. How many times have you passed on an outing with friends by fabricating a story about being busy? Slight changes may not be cause for concern, but a continuous pattern of conduct could mean much more. For instance, avoiding social interactions when you were once the life of the party is a red flag for some, while engaging in risky activities will be alarming to others. We have to pay attention to these behavior changes in our coworkers or loved ones and be open to listening without judgment. Take notice of who’s becoming a recluse, excessively missing work or has suddenly plummeting job performance. The worst things you can say to someone who is battling work-related turmoil or mental strain is “man up” or “put your big girl panties on.” Acknowledging a cry for help could save a friendship, marriage or life.
Keeping a journal of your feelings and sickness can help you identify your triggers. If any dangerous conditions can be traced directly to work-related situations, it may be time to dust off your resume. Just because you sneeze or have a headache, it’s not the end of the world. Some stress is good, but you must understand what it actually means to have balance. Take control of your career and mental health by listening to your body and waving the white flag when you’ve had enough.
Ashley Watkins, Career Coach and Nationally Certified Résumé Writer with Write Step Resumes, LLC, provides high-quality résumé writing, interview preparation and career coaching services to help job seekers get more interviews and salary offers. She can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or via www.WriteStepResumes.com.