Published February 12, 2019
Is The Job You Hate Killing You? Why You Need to Make a Change
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Staying in the job you hate is killing you, and we’re not talking metaphorically. You probably already know that they can make you lose confidence in your abilities. But what about the physical and psychological effects of hating your job?
A study by the Ohio State University shows they’re very real and can cause major problems later in life. “We found that there is a cumulative effect of job satisfaction on health that appears as early as your 40s,” said Jonathan Dirlam, the study’s lead author.
Any ‘poor quality’ job – with higher levels of stress and low pay – shortens your life and decreases its quality. Stay at a job you hate, and your wellbeing will suffer. This is the unpleasant truth. Not only will it affect your physical and mental health, but it will also impact your personal life.
Some of the lowest paying jobs, such as waiters and customer service representatives, require the most emotional and physical labour, but any job with a toxic culture or a mean boss can have negative effects. The nastiest part about these jobs is that after a while they grind you down, and you start to accept that this is the way life has to be. Exhaustion makes it difficult to imagine that things could be different or better, and you get stuck in a loop of negativity and hopelessness.
A Gallup poll found that over half of Americans aren’t interested in their jobs, and 16% flat-out dislike their workplace. While everyone has bills to pay, you need to know the true cost of sticking it out, so you can decide if it’s truly worth it.
How Hating Your Job Impacts Your Physical Health
If you’re in a terrible job, you will probably be in a negative state of mind most of the time. After all, you’re spending 38+ hours a week in an environment that causes feelings of stress and anxiety. Having a job that creates a negative state of mind can also lead to future physical problems.
Weight Gain or Loss
A toxic job can cause weight changes. Some people might notice that they gain weight, potentially due to stress or unhealthy eating patterns. When we’re feeling down, we are way more likely to turn to junk food to make us feel better. Others won’t have much of an appetite at all. If this is you, your anxiety is overriding your desire to eat and you might shed a few kilos instead. Either way, if you’re noticing fluctuations in your weight, keep an eye out. It could be a sign that your job is impacting your health.
Our minds and bodies are closely linked. When we get stressed out, this is often reflected somewhere in our physical self. Have you ever noticed that you tend to get a sore back when you’re under a lot of pressure? Respondents to the study by Ohio State University were more likely to report back pain and other illnesses if they disliked their job.
Long-term stress suppresses our immune systems, meaning that we’re more susceptible to minor illnesses like coughs, colds, and viruses. The truly grim news is that this, by extension, also leaves you more susceptible to serious and chronic illnesses, like heart disease.
If you hate your job, your sleep is probably suffering. Chances are you’re lying awake at night, reliving stressful situations from the work; or you’re having those horrible repetitive nightmares about being at work, and then having to go to work feeling like you never left. Either way, if your sleep is compromised, so are you. Your energy levels plummet, brain fog sets in, and your mental performance is severely impaired.
How Hating Your Job Impacts Your Mental Health
Though a bad job can wreak havoc on your body, the effect on your mental health is even more profound. A study by the University of Manchester even found that it’s better to have no job at all.
Poor quality jobs are associated with higher levels of mental health problems, frequently causing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
“The higher levels of mental health problems for those with low job satisfaction may be a precursor to future physical problems,” says Hui Zheng, associate professor of sociology at the University of Ohio. “Increased anxiety and depression could lead to cardiovascular or other health problems that won’t show up until they are older.”
Additionally, people with pre-existing psychiatric conditions often don’t seek treatment or care, worrying that they’ll be fired due to the stigma around mental health.
How Hating Your Job Ruins Your Personal Life
The effects of long hours, skyrocketing stress levels, exhaustion, and a low mood aren’t limited to you. When you bring your woes home, they bring your loved ones down with you. Your job becomes a black hole of energy, draining your energy and motivation. This leads you to put less energy into your interests and your social life. When you withdraw from your friends and family, you can suffer from social isolation, which then leads back to mental and physical problems. You end up feeling even more helpless and stuck in your job.
How Sarah found a job she loves
How Nat found a job she loves
What To Do When You Hate Your Job
Sure, lots of people have to work jobs they don’t like at some point or another. But sometimes, the true cost of the job you hate just isn’t worth the paycheck.
If you’re stuck in a negative loop, it can be difficult to start making changes. A lack of motivation, energy and hope can make you feel trapped – but I promise you, there is something better out there. You don’t have to settle for this.
Everyone’s circumstances are different, so think about what is actually under your control – whether you can make some adjustments to your current position, find a new job, or even a new career.
Help! My Job Is Killing Me But I Can’t Quit
If you can’t find another job at this time, for whatever reason, direct your attention to what you can actually change. If possible, reach out to your boss for help. Perhaps they can make some changes that will make your role bearable, whether that’s reducing your workload, changing the tasks assigned to you making your hours more flexible, or moving you into a different team. Make small changes in how you look after yourself. Focus on eating a little better one week, and see if that feels good. The next week, add some exercise in. Soon you might find your sleep improves too. Break these changes down into small steps rather than trying to do it all at once, so you can build upon each positive development without using up all your energy reserves.
How To Get Into A Better Job
If it’s possible for you to change your job, it’s time to begin the job search.
Research the job opportunities out there. Even awareness of the greener pastures out there can change your outlook, giving you a boost of motivation and hope. Just make sure you do your job applications on your own time – and don’t talk about them at work.
Do your due diligence on any new roles – you don’t want to end up in this position again. Sites like Glassdoor and Kununu can help you understand what a company’s culture will be like, and whether you’re a good fit. LinkedIn can be a fantastic way to research companies and find places you’d like to work.
Perhaps you’ve learned that this career track doesn’t suit you, in which case you can investigate career change options. It could be time to retrain, in which case starting with a short course or a certificate can be a great way to get started in a new industry. Take our career quiz to discover what sort of job you’d be suited for, or start reading up on how to pull off a career change.
The cost of staying in a job you hate? Your mental, emotional and physical health, and all the things you care about outside your job. You deserve better. So go on, make any changes that are available to you, and watch your life take an upward turn.
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