Work-Life Balance

6 signs your job is ruining your mental health

Written by Michael Hoon

First and foremost, most of us go to work to make money. Ideally, on top of that, you like what you do. On top of that, there may even be social benefits to going to work every day if you also enjoy being around your co-workers. If your job checks all of those boxes, great! If it even checks just one, you might be doing all right. But if you can’t think of one positive thing about your current situation, you might need to make changes. Work should not be a place that makes you feel terrible—all the time. Yet this is what happens to many people who must endure toxic work situations that are damaging them mentally. If this is happening to you, it is time to find a new job or make strides toward a new situation. Here are six warning signs that it’s time to make a change.

1. You can’t bring yourself to go to work

When you wake up in the morning, do you feel as though your limbs weigh 1,000 pounds and you simply cannot pull them out of bed? Does the idea of stepping foot in your office fill you with crushing anxiety, EVERY single day? Do you take days off simply because you can’t bring yourself to go into work? These are all great, big, flashing warning signals that something is terribly wrong at work, and it’s wreaking havoc with your mental health. Sure, for most people it’s not common to bound out of bed with a huge smile on your face ready to take on the day (how lucky if that’s the case!), but if work dread plagues you every morning, that’s not the norm.

2. You can never really leave work

If you have no chance to get out of a non-work mindset, you’re not living a balanced life. When you’re home with family or friends, do you still have your phone connected to work email and attached to your palm so you can deal with clients or co-workers? Are you always on call? Do you not even get to take a break when you’re in the office to go for a 15-minute walk to get some lunch or a breath of fresh air? If so, that is not a healthy way to live your life, and you probably need to make some radical changes. Everyone deserves time off, no matter what you do for a living.

3. You don’t want to socialize at work

From Monday through Friday, the average adult spends half of his or her waking life at work, so it is vital to get along with the people you spend time around all week, even just on a cordial level. But if things are bad at work, the idea of talking to or even looking at your co-workers may make you feel sick to your stomach. That is not a good thing, and a very clear indicator that your job is making you deeply unhappy.

4. You’re overlooked and ignored

Some people prefer to go under the radar at work, but there is a real downside to always being overlooked or ignored: you don’t get the accolades for a job well done that you deserve, and you might even get passed over when it comes time to receive raises or promotions. Chronically overlooked employees may start to feel like they don’t even exist, which can put them into an extremely unhealthy frame of mind. No one wants to feel as if they don’t matter.

5. Your job fills you with guilt

Sometimes we don’t think about the consequences of a particular job when first accepting it… we just need to work, whatever that may be. But if you are working for a company that commits the unconscionable—environmental damage; human rights violations; misogynistic, homophobic, or racist practices; selling unsafe products; treating workers like sub-humans; supporting immoral or unethical ideologies; lying to the public—simply going to work may fill you with an awful sense of guilt. If that’s the case, it may be time to find another opportunity. We all need to pay the bills, but you’ll want to remain true to your morals if what your company does is negatively affecting your state of mind. If you can’t look yourself in the mirror, your mental health will suffer.

6. Your personal life is suffering

A miserable job may make you feel miserable during work hours. A completely unacceptable one will leak into your personal hours. You might get testy with your spouse or kids at home. You might never be in the mood for intimacy. You might spend all your free time sleeping, crying, sulking, or simply thinking about work. If you feel terrible at all times because of your job, there is no question that your job is ruining your mental health and you need to take some positive action.

About the author

Michael Hoon