Most people can probably come up with about a million things they would rather be doing on any given day other than going to work. Even those of us who love what we do for a living need to take a personal day from time to time to rest, recharge, and give our minds a break. But, what if coming back to work makes you feel bad in ways you can’t explain?
According to the Depression Center at the University of Michigan, anywhere from 2% to 4% of US workers suffer from depression, and up to 50% of those workers experience short-term disability. Depression costs employers over $44 billion annually in lost productivity. About 81% of that is due to a worker’s poorer on-the-job performance due to their symptoms.
Because of these very real effects, it’s important to both you and your boss to find out whether your job is the cause of your depression or other mental health issues.
The following are some signs that your job is affecting your mental health.
You can’t get out of bed in the morning
Everyone has the occasional day when they feel too tired or sick to muster the energy to get out of bed for work. But if you are having these kinds of days more and more frequently, it could be your body’s stress response to a difficult work environment.
Lynn Taylor, a workplace expert and author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job" wrote in Psychology Today that if the thought of going to work every morning makes you immobile, you should consider taking some time off, and maybe even be looking for a new job.
You feel obligated to respond to work emails and texts 24/7
Many companies expect employees to respond to emails after work and on the weekends. However, according to Business News Daily, a study presented at the 2016 annual meeting of the Academy of Management found that "employers damage their employee's well-being and work-life balance and weaken their job performance when they create expectations that work-related emails should be monitored and responded to during non-work hours."
Whether you work for a company or are self-employed, it is important to have designated non-working hours to enjoy life apart from work.
You don’t take breaks during the workday
When you have a ton of paperwork piled on your desk or have several back-to-back meetings scheduled, you may not get a chance to take a break during your workday. But working through your breaks is not good for your mental health.
In a 2015 study, Emily Hunter, PhD, and Cindy Wu, PhD, associate professors of management at the Baylor University Hankamer School of Business, found that not only taking breaks, but taking "better breaks" can lead to better health and increased job satisfaction among employees. Better breaks typically mean taking more frequent short breaks starting mid-morning rather than one or two long breaks.
You don’t socialize with coworkers
In an interview with Business Insider, Amy Morin, author of "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," said that if your job is mentally draining, you might start to turn down social opportunities with co-workers. This can be something as simple as choosing to sit at your desk for lunch rather than eating with co-workers in the lounge or cafeteria. Being too exhausted to talk to people, especially those who share your same work environment, could be a sign that your job is taking a toll on your mental health.
One way to combat these feelings is to make an effort to get to know your colleagues. New York Times contributor and professor of management and psychology at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Adam Grant, writes that the most satisfying jobs are those that provide opportunities to form friendships.
You feel you could be let go at any time
A huge cause of stress and anxiety is job insecurity. Researchers Sarah Burgard and Lucie Kalousova of the University of Michigan, and Kristin Seefeldt of Indiana University found that employees who did not have job security, were significantly more likely to meet the criteria for major or minor depression than employees who felt secure in their careers.
If your company is experiencing layoffs, don’t wait to start cleaning up your resume. You may also consider supplementing your existing salary with freelance work. Having a little nest egg can make a job transition much easier and ease your stress.