How to survive a job you hate

In my 10 years of experience as a psychotherapist, I’ve worked with a lot of clients who hate their jobs. A lot of us spend most of our waking hours at work, and if we’re unhappy at work it can impact other areas of our life. To overcome mental exhaustion and unhappiness from a job you hate, try these simple changes:

Don’t look at the clock

Continuously checking what time it is will make your day feel painfully slow. Rather than focusing on how much more time there is until your next break or the end of the day, try fully immersing yourself in everything you do at work. Make every task meaningful, whether you’re writing a report, folding clothes or helping a customer.

Being in the moment is a state of mind. If you take on each task with a sense of duty, rather than dread, your day will go by much faster. You may even lose track of time.

Think of what you’re grateful for

Starting today, make it part of your daily routine (preferably in the morning) to think of 3 things you’re grateful for. Make these things specific. Often, the simple things that make the day flow with more ease are the ones we forget to be grateful for!

As you bring more gratitude into your life each day, think of things you’re grateful for about your job. Do you love your office? Do you get along really well with coworkers? Do you live close to work? You could also try focusing on the fact that the weekend is coming up.

There is something to be grateful for in your current situation. It’s just a matter of finding
it. What you focus on will impact your mood, so you just have to be willing to see things differently. Being grateful for the good you have is the perfect place to start.

Focus on what is in your control

Think about what frustrates you at work. What irritates you? Who upsets you at work? What is it about your job that leaves you feeling unfulfilled? What are your fears related to work?

The most common complaint I hear from my clients is that they feel helpless and trapped when it comes to their job. They want to leave, but fear they won’t find something better. Try to focus on what you can control rather than what you can’t. You won’t be able to change your boss’ personality or the commute to work, but you can learn to ask coworkers for help, say no more often or ask for the raise you deserve. Go for a walk at lunch or call a friend. Doing small things will make a difference.

Shift your energy

Every single thought you have impacts the energy you carry with you. Your thoughts can become your reality in the sense that what you think influences your actions and behaviour, which create specific circumstances at work and in other areas of your life.

If you focus on taking care of yourself everyday – by eating well, thinking well, and treating yourself with compassion – you will carry positive energy with you even if your job is not ideal. When you have positive energy, you will attract the same energy in other people and situations. If you don’t buy it, try it for a week. Commit to self-care everyday for one week, and notice how much better you feel.

Create mental space

What can you do during the day that will bring you ease and peace of mind at work?

For a lot of my clients, getting out of the building helps them clear their mind. You can try going for a short walk or running some errands on your lunch. The change in environment will bring some ease if you are mentally exhausted from a job that drains you.

If you can’t be somewhere else, go somewhere else in your mind. Listen to your favourite song or watch a funny clip on Youtube. Consciously breathe deep into your belly throughout the day. Try to take a mental break whenever you feel agitated or anxious.

Know that you may not have control of certain circumstances, but you do have control of how you handle them. Commit to communicating your needs and creating boundaries. Take good care of yourself, and make your mental health a priority. And remember that although this job may be where you need to be at this time in your life, you can bring more ease and positive energy into your job with these simple shifts.

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