Could a career change help your mental health?
Do you feel like you have a problem with work? If you do, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with the stress, anxiety and challenges that they face at work – it can be a consistent source of mental health problems.
Indeed, you may or may not be surprised to learn that 79% of staff in the UK have suffered from burnout – the feeling of mental and physical exhaustion from the work that they have to do. It is the case that many people who feel burned out also consider a change of career as a way to combat the issue. But is this the right approach?
In this article we will take a look at the benefits and also the challenges of changing careers to get an understanding of whether this is the right option for you.
What happens when you hate your job?
“When you’re miserable at work, you’re going to struggle daily; the thought of going to your workplace fills you with dread,” says Sarah Fader, writing for BetterHelp, “It’s going to be difficult for you to function and succeed in your position. Many people in this position find that they experience troublesome mental health effects as a result of this such as panic attacks or anxiety about going to work, insomnia, and even depression.”
It is certainly the case that hating the job that you are currently in can play havoc with your mental health. Remember that work takes up a huge proportion of your time – if you’re spending several hours most days doing something that you don’t enjoy, it is bound to have a negative impact on you.
One option that some people opt for when they are facing mental health challenges from the work they do is finding a way to reduce their hours. This might mean simply reducing the hours in their current job and accepting a pro-rata pay cut – or moving to a different job where the hours are not as demanding.
Some see flexible working as a good option. However, opinion is still somewhat divided as to whether flexible working actually does reduce work-related stress, or whether it can actually make it worse.
Find a better work-life balance
In many cases, the crucial move is not necessarily around flexible working, but rather to find a better work-life balance. If your job is affecting your mental health, the reality may well be that you are finding enough time to relax at home.
Think about the time that you like to spend away from work, and work out what kind of role or career might facilitate more of this. It might be the case that your current commute is too long, or that you would benefit from a job that you don’t have to ‘take home with you’.
People make a big difference
It is also worth pointing out that the people that you work with can make a big difference to your overall happiness in the workplace. It may be that you have a boss who you clash with, or you might not enjoy working with your team. Even if you believe you are in your dream job, you can be made unhappy by simply working with the wrong people.
On a positive note, workplaces have become better equipped to recognise staff who might be suffering from mental health problems or stress-related issues at work. Specialist training is also available to promote a culture of wellbeing at work that presents employees with tips to identify who might be experiencing issues alongside supportive techniques to help people who are under duress.
What makes you happy?
When considering a career change, many people focus on a huge range of factors without putting thought into the most important. Going through a career change can be a significant upheaval that comes with stress on its own; if you are thinking of changing in order to improve your mental health, it is crucial to consider what is going to make you happy.
It could be that you are looking to work in an industry that prioritises humanity, compassion and meaning. Alternatively, you might prioritise working outdoors, or having plenty of variety in your day-to-day activities. Ultimately, if you are making the change in order to benefit your mental health, happiness has to be a key part of why you choose the career you do.
Finding the right job for you
Remember that sometimes it is worth considering the kind of job where there are opportunities and then consider whether this could be the right move for you. Just because there are jobs available in a certain industry, that doesn’t necessarily mean that working in that sector will make you happier.
“We have seen a surge in applications for driving training,” says the National Driving Centre, a government-approving driving testing centre “more people understand that there is demand for roles and are looking to get trained. Driving large vehicles isn’t the career path that suits everyone, but it can have a lot of benefits and be very enjoyable. It all depends on the person”.
It is worth taking the time to really understand what you are looking for from your job, and making the decision on that basis.
For more information on local employment support, including how we can support you to stay in work, please call 01482 240133 or email [email protected]