There are few ways of life more cherished in American society than working hard. But all work and no play don’t just make Johnny a dull boy, as the saying goes…it can make him depressed, anxious, and generally mentally unwell.
It’s not hard to understand that, regardless of what you do for a living, your job can affect your mental health and vice versa. The good news is, you have the power to preserve and improve your work-life balance. It means paying attention for.
A 2021 survey by Mental Health America, found that 83 percent of respondents felt emotionally drained from work. Seventy-one percent strongly agreed that the workplace affects their mental health. Women and people of color seem to take on a disproportionate amount of emotional stress both at and away from the workplace. Women are at least two times as likely to have suffered from depression as men, according to federal data. At the same time, African Americans are less likely than non-Hispanic whites to receive treatment for depression or prescription medications for mental health.
Hard Work and Mental Health
Considering how much our jobs can impact our mental health, we should all be aware of signs that we might need to make changes at work or seek professional help. Here are a few steps you can take to determine where you’re at and what changes to make.
Figure out your feelings
How do you feel about work lately? If your work doesn’t interest you as much as it once did, or if your productivity has tanked, something is likely amiss.
Maybe you’ve started dreading the start of the workday, or your anxiety is so high that you can’t clearly think of everything you’re supposed to do but then can’t sleep at night remembering everything you forgot. Perhaps you’ve fallen way behind on responding to emails and aren’t communicating as much or as well as you usually would. These could all be signs that hard work and your mental health are not aligned.
Pay attention if work gets you down so much that your personal relationships start to suffer. Think about what could be triggering you. Is a particular job responsibility causing most of your stress? Is it possible that you have an underlying, untreated health problem like depression? It might be a combination of these.
Reach out and get support
Whatever your problem(s) might be, once you realize you need help, seek out a trusted friend, mentor, co-worker, peer group or therapist – any source that makes you feel seen, heard, and validated. You want to show up as your authentic self without fear of judgment or negative repercussions.
Some employers offer employee assistance programs with an array of services to accommodate hard work and your mental health. These might include confidential short-term counseling from licensed therapists or referrals to outside experts. Your company might also partner with organizations that provide wellness classes or free career coaching. There are options you can set up as an employer, and options you can seek as an employee.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health problems became rampant. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report concluded that in June 2020, 40 percent of American adults had been struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues. Because of this, many employers have become much more aware of the importance of sound mental health. After all, if it’s good for you, it’s most likely good for your employer.
Set boundaries around hard work and mental health
Once you’ve found a supportive person to listen, you can work together to form a plan to improve your work life and emotional well-being. Think about what would make you feel better. It might be an accommodation like a short-term disability leave, a more flexible work schedule, or setting limits on when and how often you have to respond to work messages.
Above all, it’s important to keep your personal worth in mind, even if you’re not used to doing so. If you feel like you’re not doing a good job, you might even be telling yourself that you are worthless at work. But you are a worthy and valuable human being, no matter what you do at work, how much you accomplish, or how others see you. Feelings of self-doubt and not belonging are only human. When they pop up, remember the unique talents and ideas you bring to your workplace.
Delegate to lower stress levels
One key factor in setting boundaries is learning how to delegate. That means trusting others to get the job done without you. Some tasks can be delegated easily, such as admin work, accounting, marketing and copywriting, social media management, and the jobs required to fulfill customer needs. The better you get at delegation, the more room you have to enjoy life while business runs smoothly.
Your legal rights
In America, it is ILLEGAL for an employer to discriminate simply because you have a mental health condition.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, if you have a qualifying condition like major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, you have a legal right to a reasonable accommodation that would help you do your job, like the freedom to schedule work around therapy appointments, a quiet office space, or permission to work from home.
Don’t Ignore Your Mental Health for the Sake of Hard Work
If you’re dealing with hard work and mental health issues, don’t wait months or years hoping something will miraculously change. The longer you delay addressing your situation, the longer you will deprive yourself of the satisfying work-life you SHOULD be having – and deserve! If you are ready to delegate to free up some of that precious mental health time, reach out to Watch Media Group for copywriting, content marketing, and social media management.