We’ve all had days when nothing goes right. Days when you dread stepping foot in the office. And days where you never ever want to come back. With most of us spending more and more time at work, staying inspired and fulfilled is more important than ever.
Whether it’s a fleeting reaction to something that’s gone wrong; or getting the Sunday night dreads every single night, here’s a couple of ways to help pull through those rough patches. Career and Life Coach, Amy Chen shares her tips for changing your attitude towards work.
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Happy and well is how people compare old corporate me to now. I used to blame my job, co-workers and boss for being the sole source of my misery, with my last corporate job decimating my self-confidence.
Back then, just getting out of bed was an achievement. The experience left me riddled with anxiety and believing I wasn’t good enough nor deserving enough. No matter what anyone tells you, we are all enough and we are all deserving just as we are.
Leaving a toxic workplace wasn’t the cure-all I was after. It took months to recover from the experience. But wherever you end up, there will still be bad days. You will be challenged in ways you’d prefer not to be challenged. And sometimes effects of an untenable workplace will linger longer than you expect.
Given most of us spend the majority of our waking hours at work and 75% of job searchers taking up to six months to land a new role, we all need tools to keep is inspired and help us through today, tomorrow, and the next month.
Whether you just need a quick pick-me-up, or you’re holding on by your fingernails and need to stay sane until the next opportunity presents itself, here are some ways to keep your head high and get back on track more quickly.
1. Lean into discomfort
Whether it’s a trusted friend, family, or a professional, find somewhere you can speak your truth without judgement or repercussions. Writing down your emotions is also a good way of working through the storm in your head.
We’re taught to celebrate the good, but it’s also important to accept you’ll have times of despair too. Studies from institutions like Harvard School of Public Health have linked suppressing emotion to heart disease and early mortality.
Most workplaces offer free counselling sessions with external firms, so use them for an impartial sounding board. Don’t be ashamed of paying for help. After all, what price do you put on your mental health?
Use your discomfort for learning and self-study. Articulating the why’s and the how’s of your feelings can give you the clarity to decide your priorities and how to reach your longer term goals. It’s also a way to see whether your emotional reactions are the result of personalising something or bringing past trauma into the present.
2. Remind yourself how great you are
It’s easy to get caught up with the bad, but you’ve done plenty of good too – think of three times you did something great, or overcame something significant. Write down, in detail, what you achieved, spell out the fears you had, and what you did to overcome your barriers.
Find a positive outlet to keep you intellectually challenged and rewarded. Take up that new hobby or do a short course in something you’re interested in to keep those creative juices flowing.
You have more to offer the world that what you do for work, and you already have the tools you need. You made it this far, right? Those same skills, persistence and resilience will get you through today’s obstacles.
3. Small Steps
If everything seems overwhelming, set a small goal first. Then the next. Then the next. Author of New York Times bestseller The 4 Hour Work Week, Tim Ferris, spoke about a daily writing quota of just two pages. His last book was over 672 pages. Once you start, those two pages become four, then maybe 20. Before you know it, you’ll have thousands of words.
The world doesn’t seem so daunting when things are broken down into smaller, more do-able chunks. A small goal like 2 pages a day is progress, and will put you well on your way to great things.
4. Get the blood flowing
Studies have shown that regular exercise is an effective way of reducing anxiety, and can be a powerful way of managing the blues. To be our best, we need to feel good inside and out, so a healthy body is key to achieving a healthy mind. Get your perspective back by scheduling time before work or escape for a lunch time workout. Hit the gym, go to yoga, or just walk around the block.
5. Step outside
There have been studies that have shown sunlight being a key factor in improving mood, and boosting vitamin D as a way of fighting the blues.
Besides, what could be nicer that sitting in the sun? Allow yourself 20 minutes of unfiltered sunlight (the healing properties of sunlight can’t penetrate glass, giving you the perfect excuse to step outside). There are also ways to get vitamin D through supplements and diet.
6. Allow yourself to receive
As a perfectionist obsessed with achievement, it was difficult to accept I couldn’t operate at 100% all the time. But we’re all human and we should give ourselves the same compassion we show others.
Do something for yourself. Steal some time to jot down your thoughts at a café. Have lunch away from the office. Go easy on the vino (alcohol is a depressant and can make you feel worse). Maybe treat yourself to a massage or manicure after work, or do whatever else takes your fancy.
We spend our whole lives giving, so allow yourself to receive and replenish. We can only give our best when our own cup is full.
And by taking small steps like the ones here, and reaching out for help if you need to, you’ll realign yourself to your goals and put yourself on the path to wellness more quickly.