The way of modern life for many is that a good 40 hours of every week (at least) are spent at work. Furthermore, work has a habit of following lots of people home, as work email accounts are synced to phones, and early morning/late night mails are sent around. Work has a habit of never stopping.
Whatever your feelings on this, there’s inevitably a dividing line between home life and work life, however grey it may be. But also, our approach to work tends to be related to how well we’re enjoying work, and how well we’re being treated there. If you’re having a tough time at work, it often can’t help but grind you down. Furthermore, if you find yourself working for people who take little notice, or seem to have little appreciation, of what you do, it can be soul destroying.
The other factor is when you’re being bullied, or treated badly, or both. When you know you’re so dependent on the income just to get by, that you have to take it on the chin. The feeling that it’s not worth being seen as the troublemaker by reporting something, or that you have no confidence your employer will take you seriously, let alone resolve anything.
There’s a cheery few paragraphs, and a cheery few paragraphs without an obvious positive answer. For what it’s worth though, a few tips and thoughts. Hopefully something here can be of use.
Draw a line. If you’re finding your work is following you home at night, or that people are making unreasonable demands outside of working hours, put in some demarcation between your time and their time. Maybe say that you have plans you can’t move in the evening. Don’t log into or access your work email from home. Log out of work services. Make sure, basically, that you’re reserving some time and brain space for you.
Address the problem. Unfortunately, the way most work problems go is that if you don’t do something about it, then nobody else will. Is there someone you can confide in? Is there a HR department you can go and have a quiet word with? Can you drop your line manager a line explaining how you feel? Is there a friend there you can have a chat with? If you’re stuck in the job, and there’s no obvious exit on the cards, then, sadly, the onus moves to you in the first instance to kickstart a change. As shitty as it may sound, people around you may not know how you feel. There’s often no malice in that, it’s just we never really see what stuff people have going on in their life, and we’ve met few people who don’t have a massive plate of problems to juggle.
Get external help. If things aren’t resolvable internally at your place of employment, then get help from outside. The Citizens Advice Bureau can be great for this, and it has a page of advice and ideas right here.
Keep a diary. If things are really bad at work, just take a minute each day to diarise what happened, and any incidents that occurred. It can be something of a release just to write things down sometimes. But make sure, particularly if you’re being bullied, you get times, dates and details down. You never know when you might need them.
Never stop looking. If work is unhappy, then it makes sense to have a two-tier approach. To have a CV up to date, and put aside some time to explore something else. This isn’t an ideal answer – why should you have to leave your job just because of someone else? – but it can still be a useful self-protection strategy.
Finally, and appreciating this is idealist, there is a moment in any bad job where the question comes up: can you afford to leave, and can you afford to stay? A point where the toll a job is taking is outweighing the financial income it provides. If a job is making you ill, and potentially unable to work, then it may just become a false economy to stay. Going back to that caveat: it is idealistic, we get that. But also, self-care is vital, and matters. If you can cover the rent, bills and food, then months with just a pile of second hand books to read might be a better option than the alternative.
You all stay awesome, and thanks, as always, for reading.