Most of us spend an average of 8 hours a day, 5 days a week working. Some of us will spend less, a lot of us much more. But, regardless of your working hours, if you’re unhappy at work, your mental health is probably going to take a hit.
So what can you do?
1. Recognise what’s making you unhappy
If previously you loved your job, yet now wake up dreading walking through the door, consider why you may be feeling this way. Perhaps you have something going on in your home life and it’s causing you to stress at work. Maybe you’re not getting on with a co-worker. You may be working hard, but feel it’s going unnoticed.
If you’ve fallen out of love with a job you previously adored, take the time to think why. You probably wish you could make a brash decision, every morning deciding that you’ll search for a new job tonight. But before you hand in your notice, try to understand what’s causing your upset – are you bored, or is it something more serious?
2. Actively change what is bothering you
Once you acknowledge what it is making you unhappy, consider if it can be improved. We all fall into a rut during the summer months. For example, when co-workers are on holiday and we’re staring out to the sunny outdoors, pining for a cold pint in a pub garden. Trust us, nobody wants to be working during this time. But bills need to be paid and we need to turn up. So if you’re unhappy at work, you need to make a change.
Make a list of pros and cons.
With the cons, consider if you can do anything about them to improve the situation or solve the problem. Make another list of any potential ideas and take them with you to work. Keep them as a reminder of the small changes you would like to make and either start working through them or talk to someone who may be able to help you.
3. Speak to your manager
It’s not always easy, but if you want something, you need to ask. Gone are the days at school where you could keep your head down, study hard and still get noticed. You may be doing a great job, but you need to let people know about it. If you feel undervalued and underpaid, speak to your manager. But prepare what you’re going to say before jumping in at the deep end. If you have a list of accomplishments and reasons why you deserve more credit or more pay, your manager will likely applaud you.
Same goes for wanting more responsibilities. We’re a funny species – we may not like change, but we get bored easily. If you’re completing all your tasks early or would like to shake things up a bit, ask for a new project or some extra work. Just make sure you can handle it – if you go too hard too soon, you’ll only overwork yourself and end up back here in 6 months time.
When was the last time you had a day off that wasn’t a weekend?
Sometimes feeling unhappy at work comes down to a simple thing – you need a break. Book a holiday, take a couple of days to chill out or pull a sicky, whatever you do, be sure to focus on you. Put on your out-of-office, turn email notifications off and put all work-related thoughts to the back of your mind. Enjoy your time off and you should come back to work feeling refreshed and with plenty of motivation.
5. Accept it may be time to move on
If you’ve tried the above and you’re still unhappy, it may be time to accept that your relationship with your job has come to an end. Times have changed and no more do we settle in a job for life. Did you know that in the UK, the average time at one company is five years? In fact, moving careers after three to five years is considered normal. So it’s totally OK to be ready for a change.
There are a number of factors that may contribute to your need for change. If it’s a small company, for example, there may not be as many progressive opportunities for you. If you’ve gone as far as you feel you can go, consider looking for a new challenge.
Your age can also have an effect on how long you stay at a job. If you’re a younger worker (in your 20s) you spend these years developing new skills, adjusting to new environments and learning your strengths. Whereas when you’re a little older, you start to focus on developing your managerial skills.
If your current job fails to deliver on the skills you’re after, that’s OK. Explain this to your employer – they may be able to offer you a different role. If not, consider saying goodbye.
At the end of the day, we spend so much of our time at work and if we’re unhappy, the rest of our lives can be affected. Try to find a job that challenges you, but one which you enjoy and flourish in. If you have the opportunity to grow and change, jump at the chance – you deserve it.