By Dr. Akilah Cadet
Sundays you feel anxiety, anger, and frustration about your job. You're frequently late to work. Your appearance changes and you no longer volunteer or engage in opportunities. Gone are the days of you staying for the happy hours or any social work event. And somehow your feeling of impostor syndrome increases even when you know you’re qualified to do the job. Any of these feelings sound familiar? If so, it is time to evaluate your mental health at work.
To wrap up Mental Health Awareness Month I’d like to talk about the importance of mental health in the workplace. You should have JOY at work. Not that you have to be on cloud 9 everyday, but you really should enjoy your job and the people around you. I would know.
I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder or severe depression in 2016 due to a horrible job. I want to be clear just because you're experiencing some lows in the workplace it does not mean you have a mental illness. It just means you have to be proactive about changing the negative behavior you experience and/or feel.
If you are in a place where you're experiencing any of these following signs it's time to put yourself first:
Sunday Simmer: If you spend any part of your Sundays thinking about how much you do not want to go to work, see your boss, or work with your team that is what I call the Sunday Simmer. You bubble with anger, frustration, anxiety, or disappointment. If you feel you are simmering one or more of these ways you must do something about it! Is there someone you can talk to at work like a mentor or advisor? Can you report to someone else or move to a different department? Whatever it is, don't stay in the simmer because if you're giving your Sundays to work you're at a higher risk for increased anxiety and depression as one in 20 workers are at risk.
Fashion Fail: I love fashion! When I had that horrific job, I did not care what I wore to work. I would wear black all the time. Not like on trend black, but just the easiest thing to wear to get out the door. You should care about how you look in general and wear things that make you feel good about yourself. For example, if you were the type of person who prepped their work outfit the night before and now you throw whatever is clean on, that is a sign that you are giving up and or don’t feel appreciated at work. This is not a good sign. When I decided it was time for me to GTFO one of the first things I did was start to dress up for myself. It was a way that I showed up for me and honestly I felt better about myself and more confident. I guess you could say I was dressing for the job I wanted and not the one I had.
On Time When You Get There: Remember when you started your new job and you were always on time if not early. If you get to work when you feel like it you no longer care about the consequences like you did when you started. This is another visual cue that you don't care about the job, don't respect your supervisor or your team, or feel like you are not respected, valued, or appreciated. A quick way to fix this is to go to the gym before work or get up earlier to stop by your favorite cafe for coffee or your favorite breakfast burrito. Do something that makes you feel good about getting up and going to work. When I was transitioning out from the awful job there was this cute donut shop that had donuts for dogs. Some days of the week I would stop by and get my little guy one as it brought me joy.
Happiness is instrumental to work/life harmony. You spend more time at work than you do in your personal life. It is important you enjoy the work and the time that you spend there. If you don’t like being at work you need to come up with a plan to reconnect with your work happiness. If you are unable to then it is time to GTFO aka move on as these signs can lead to sadness, depression, anxiety, stress, and other health problems.
Here’s what you can do. Take mental health days! It is perfectly fine to use your sick or vacation days for self-care. You need to be your best and if a day or three away from the office helps, do it! If you are bringing the disappointment of your 9-5 home, talk to someone about it. It may be a friend, family member, or partner, but know that even with support it may be time to talk to a Therapist. There are many ways to connect with a therapist that is right for you either in person, over the phone/text, or video chat. I see my amazing therapist once a week!
Executive Coaches (like me, wink) are a great start too. They can help you with any changes or behavior modifications needed to improve your experience at work. There are limitations as they are not therapists (I recommend therapy for leaders when needed) but a combination of a Therapist, Coach, and/or a friend or family member is a great start to finding your joy. YOU deserve to be happy.