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Have you ever felt like you’d rather go to the dentist than go to work? Are you always skirting the edge of “barely acceptable” performance because you hate what you’re doing? Have you ever thought “My job is killing me” and started glumly planning your own funeral? If so, you’re in the right place – today we’re examining what to do when you dread work.
“My Job is Killing Me” – What To Do When You Hate Work
Your alarm goes off and you groan before blindly slapping the “snooze” and trying to sleep for a few more minutes, hoping that you can pretend that you don’t need to go to work. You rush through your morning routine – hitting that snooze button means you’re running behind – and make your way to work. Each step you take feels like an increasingly heavy weight is on your feet, and you can barely muster up a smile even for the co-workers you like.
Dreading work is a common occurrence. According to a 2017 Gallup study, up to 85% of workers feel “disengaged.” The problem is more prevalent among the millennial generation, who often view work as part of their identity – how often are you meeting a new person and hearing something along the lines of “so what do you do?” Work is often an intrinsic part of our identity, and being in a position where you’re dreading work often makes you feel like there must be something wrong with your life.
Is Your Job Literally Killing You?
For most of us, unless we work in a field that requires exposure to hazardous materials or contagious diseases, the chances that our work might actually directly kill us is fairly low. However – it can certainly contribute.
Being under stress causes the production of cortisol. Cortisol suppresses bodily functions that are not immediately necessary for survival – it triggers your body’s “fight or flight” response. This may mean disrupting your sleep (because you might need to wake up and run if you’re being attacked!), suppressing your digestion (no time to sit around and be a glutton, that’s just going to slow you down in battle!), affecting your reproductive health (reproducing is going to make you get eaten!), or any other number of things.
Now, in centuries past, when villages were being ransacked or our ancestors were fending off saber-toothed tiger attacks, this was a good thing. In modern times, your hypothalamus (the part that produces cortisol) hasn’t gotten the memo that we don’t need to worry about those things, and it produces cortisol in response to environmental stressors – like working at a job we hate.
What can constant exposure to higher cortisol levels do? It can put you at increased risk of:
- Digestive problems
- Weight gain
- Sleep problems
- Memory and concentration issues
- Heart problems
Clearly, having a lower level of cortisol is a positive – but how do you achieve that when you hate your work?
How To Lower Your Stress Levels At Work
There are several things that can be done to help lower stress levels.
First, make sure your life outside of work is in a good place. If your relationships with other people are unhealthy, it’s going to affect how you feel about everything else, including work.
How are you treating yourself? If you tend to carry a lot of your stress physically, and you aren’t getting regular massages or participating in activities such as yoga, you’re going to feel your stress throughout your body – which is going to contribute to the rest of your life.
Are you eating a healthy, balanced diet? We tend to “comfort eat” when we’re in a place of stress – think fried foods, our favorite fast food or takeaways, or packets of sweets. This is partially our body demanding we provide it with sugar or carbohydrates – glucose that it can convert to cortisol. We’ve seen in the last few years though that a high-carb diet is not healthy long-term.
Related: How To Get Out Of A Rut At Work
Should I Find A New Career Field?
Perhaps you should give some consideration to your career field – are you trying to push a round peg through a square hole? Not everyone is suited for every career – and it’s totally okay to admit that something may not be for you!
I’ve mentioned in previous articles that I spend five and a half years working in law enforcement. I liked some aspects of it – I went into it because I genuinely wanted to help people (and getting to drive cars really fast was appealing as well). But I spent most of my career working in the local jail, and I grew to hate my job, for many reasons. I was the person barely coming in on time, or often a couple minutes late, because of one simple reason – I did not want to be there.
In the last couple of years, I’ve become very interested in personality tests, such as the Myers-Brigg Type Index or the Enneagram. On Myers-Briggs, I’m an INFJ, and on the Enneagram, I’m a 5. Suggested jobs for both types include things like writer, scientist, computer programmer, mathematician, librarian, professor – notice the complete lack of “law enforcement”?
While there were some aspects of my job I enjoyed, I’ve come to realize that a large part of why I was so miserable was because it ultimately wasn’t a good fit for me. If I had realized that years earlier, I could have saved myself a lot of time and stress!
Troubleshooting Your Issues
If you still feel some passion about your career field, just not your current workplace, write down a list of your issues and devise a solution to each of them. Does dealing with one particular task fill you with dread? Can you switch the responsibility for that person to someone else? Do you feel like there is a lack of challenge? Talk to your supervisor about getting more challenging tasks.
Ultimately though, it’s up to you to decide if the best option may be finding a new position somewhere else or changing career paths altogether. No job is worth sacrificing your long-term health and happiness!
If your career is causing you to experience a continual state of stress, it may have a negative impact on your health. You need to identify why the stress is occurring in order to combat it. It may be that you’re just a poor fit for your career field – and it’s all right to admit that!
“Chronic Stress Puts Your Health At Risk”. 2019. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037.
Clifton, Jim. 2017. “The World’s Broken Workplace”. Gallup.com. https://news.gallup.com/opinion/chairman/212045/world-broken-workplace.aspx.
The Enneagram Institute. https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/
16 Personalities. https://www.16personalities.com/
Has this resonated with you? I’d love to hear from you….
What action are you going to take as a result of reading this article? Let me know your thoughts below. Remember – your observations may inspire someone else who needs help to act.