This year has dragged on — and on and on and on and on. And not just because of the pandemic or the election, but due to the fact you hate your job. Yep: we said it — and you should too, according to psychologists.
Especially when the unemployment rate is sky-high, small businesses are closing, and there is an overarching sense of dread, you may feel guilty about complaining when you are gainfully employed.
However, staying in a career or at a company that makes you feel underappreciated, undermined, or doesn’t challenge or fulfill you has lasting effects on your psyche and sense of self.
Here, we spoke with therapists to understand why it’s vital to be honest about how you feel toward your current gig and what to do if you genuinely, frankly, despise it.
Talk about it and meditate about it
Before you make any significant moves, turn to your support system to vent and think out loud. As therapist Hanna Stensby, M.A., says, it’s vital to have a safe place to thoroughly discuss how you fee thoroughly, allowing you to work through your emotions comfortably.
Then, she suggests journaling too — even if it’s a quick list or a handful of scribbled paragraphs. Next, meditate or navigate a mindful practice that allows you to sit with your thoughts instead of reacting to each of them, which diminishes their control, according to Stensby.
“By understanding that thoughts come and go constantly and that you have the power to choose to engage with them or not, you can gain awareness into how you think about your job,” she explains.
Process how you feel
From a psychological perspective, Stensby says it is essential to be honest about how you feel about your job because knowing the truth can help you recognize and take appropriate actions.
Rather than living in agony or a constant state of anxiety, by accepting, yes, you hate your job, you can start to make necessary changes. When we don’t acknowledge what’s happening in our psyche, it can lead to all sorts of mental, emotional and physical disruptions.
“It is unhealthy emotionally to ignore or repress feelings as toxic as hate or chronic upset because this could lead to depression, anxiety, unhappiness, anger, helplessness, and/or low self-esteem, and more,” she continues. “Also, not being honest about how you feel about your job can cause you physical problems such as sleep disruptions including over-or undereating, tenseness in one or more parts of your body, gastrointestinal issues, stress headaches, and/or bruxism.”
Remember, you can’t ignore stress
Sure, as overachieving professionals, we all experience various levels of stress. Though normal, we could be attempting to function under tremendous pressure because we dislike our job so much.
This doesn’t allow us any time to ‘heal’ or ‘recover’ from stress, which will take a major toll on our body. “Trying to ignore stress or difficult emotions creates tension, and when we do not release it, tension is stored somewhere in the body,” Stensby shares. Over time, this tension builds up and often is released in a hostile, unintentional way: like snapping at a friend, drinking too much, or withdrawing. “It is vital to complete the Stress Response Cycle to allow the body to reset and return to baseline functioning,” she continues. “If you don’t acknowledge how you feel, you won’t be able to take the time to address it.”
Try to stay calm and objective
Once you have solidified your feelings, it’s time to let them step back from the spotlight. How come? Psychologist Dr. Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D. explains those who are unhappy with their current job need to understand where these feelings are coming from, and that requires a state of calm and objectivity. “You can logically determine where the problem lies and not be clouded by or make decisions based on your emotions too much,” she explains.
You can do this by listing out all of the reasons why you dislike your current job, providing specific reasons. For each of those, make a column on what it would take for that to change. If you know it’s impossible to make these amends; you now know it’s time to start seeking another opportunity.
However, if most of the aspects could be modified and you would enjoy your job again, then you can take a different route. “You will need to find adaptive ways to approach and deal with the people or situations which need to be altered,” Dr. Thomas continues. “The bottom line is that you can feel more confident and emotionally secure if you let your logic versus your emotions determine to what extent and why you hate your job, so you will know what is truly necessary to do.”
Put your job into perspective
At this point, if you have determined that the job is making you miserable and is unhealthy for you, begin doing what is needed to find a better one by looking for a job discretely in many places, talking to recruiters, and connecting with your network.
“By being aware that you are not allowing yourself to stay indefinitely at a job you hate, but that you are proactively finding a better one, this can help you feel more at peace on the current job,” Dr. Thomas shares. And during this process, remember to keep your gig in perspective: it won’t last forever, and you are working toward making a change.
Keep repeating this when you feel like you’re hitting one wall after another until you find another opportunity.
And one last thing: throughout all these steps, Dr. Thomas says it is important to fuel and replenish yourself with good self-care. “Try to get enough sleep, eat adequate portions of food, exercise, breath, relax through meditation or mindfulness, have an emotional support system, get some down-time, and so on.” she advises.
And hey, if you need to, don’t hesitate to work with a psychologist who can help you find healthy ways to cope with your hated job, as well as the effects from it.