Did you know that an average person spends approximately 90,000 hours of their lifetime working?
Even though it is a significant amount of time, many people continue to work in jobs they hate, with colleagues they dislike for a salary that is not worth any of the pain.
Research has consistently shown that work-life imbalance is often associated with tight deadlines, overworking and poor working environments.
In Hong Kong SAR, 66% of Hongkongers have a poor work-life balance due to excessive workload and overtime.
Overworking and a toxic work environment can have an adverse effect on your overall well-being.
As the negative impact of a 'hustle culture' on mental health at the workplace becomes more apparent, many employees are proactively taking steps to safeguard their well-being, like quiet quitting.
The term "quiet quitting" refers to employees who put in no more than the necessary amount of effort into their jobs. Others are choosing to take sabbatical leaves or quit their jobs without another job lined up just to take a break from work.
However, employees should not have to resort to making such decisions that could affect their professional career growth. It is important to know that it is possible to have both a successful career and a good work-life balance without making sacrifices.
Recognising and acknowledging that you may be experiencing mental health issues related to work is a good first step towards improving your well-being.
If you're unsure whether you're struggling, keep an eye out for these four common warning signs. If you're experiencing any of the following signs, it's time to act.
4 signs of mental health struggles
1. workplace exhaustion and burnout
When you work overtime for a prolonged period, you will experience exhaustion and burnout from not having enough rest. Burnout syndrome is something that shouldn't be neglected because it can have a significant impact on your health, happiness and productivity.
Long hours and heavy workloads at the office can lead to overwhelming stress levels and feelings of hopelessness. You may see your burnout as "a phase" but your feelings are valid mental health concerns.
common symptoms of work burnout:
- Cynicism and negative thoughts about your workload and colleagues
- Functional depression - characterised by disturbances in sleeping, eating, energy levels
- Reduced performance
2. performance anxiety and self-doubt
Performance anxiety and self-doubt are common mental health issues that can affect workers, no matter their seniority or the job you work in.
Performance anxiety is often driven by the fear of failing and doubting your capabilities before you even start working on the task. These thoughts of self-doubt can lead to detrimental outcomes such as reduced productivity and strained workplace relationships.
common indicators of performance anxiety at work are:
- Placing too much focus on perfectionism
- Elevated heart rate when working on small tasks
- Unexplained panic attacks
- Prolonged procrastination
- Making negative and unfair comparisons with someone else
To overcome performance anxiety, try setting realistic goals and focus on your strengths rather than weaknesses.
3. workplace discrimination and mistreatment
A workplace that does not penalise discrimination and harassment create an unsafe environment for employees in minority communities.
common examples of workplace discrimination and mistreatment:
- Working with toxic colleagues
- Experiencing biases
- Being subjected to bullying
- Feeling isolated and excluded from the workplace
Everyone deserves to be treated fairly and be accepting of one another within the workplace despite our differences. Toxic workplace behaviours can have a significant impact on your productivity, happiness and mental health.
4. working in an unfulfilling job
If you are seeking new challenges at work, having to work on repeated, mundane tasks can bring the feeling of dread.
If left unchecked, a stagnant career can affect your mental well-being and lead to chronic dissatisfaction. It can leave you feeling stuck and unsatisfied, with little to no sense of purpose or fulfilment.
common signs of working in an unfulfilling job
- Lack of motivation
- Feeling undervalued
- Feeling stuck
4 ways to address mental health struggles at work
Taking care of your mental health is crucial, especially when it comes to work-related stress. Here are 4 mindset-shifting ideas to help you find a more balanced, self-affirming path to contentment and purpose at work.
1. pen down your mental struggles
One of the best ways to gain clarity with mental health challenges is to write down your thoughts and experiences in a journal. You can use it to discover how your work is impacting your mental health.
Writing your feelings or challenges is cathartic and it can also help you assess the reality of situations better than when they just remain trapped in your head as mental clutter.
Whenever you feel overwhelmed at work, write down what you feel to find suitable resolutions.
here are some steps to guide you through the process:
- Find a quiet and comfortable space
- Reflect on your current mental health
- Identify specific issues or challenges and any patterns
- Write down coping strategies or self care techniques
- Set goals for yourself
2. focus on the process and not on the outcome
Focusing on your work progress rather than the outcome is a helpful approach to addressing mental health issues in the workplace. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It's not the destination, it's the journey".
When you concentrate on your work progress, you will feel fulfilled to learn that you have grown as an employee and an individual.
here are some tips to help you focus on the process:
- Break it down into small achievable steps
- Be more creative by thinking out of the box when tackling each task
- Celebrate small wins
- Practice self-compassion
- Seek support from supportive colleagues, friends or family members
Don’t feel discouraged if things don’t work perfectly at first, because we learn more from our mistakes.
When things get tough or if you are unsure about something, always remember that it’s okay to reach out for help so that you can learn from others too. At times, even sharing your feelings with someone else could take some weight off your shoulders.
3. find something outside work that engages you
To re-energise yourself after a long day at work, try engaging in activities that have nothing to do with work!
Non-work-related activities are healthy and therapeutic, and they are also something that you can look forward to after a long and stressful day at work.
here are some activities that you can participate in at your own time:
- Running or going for long walks
- Read a book or magazine
- Start a passion project
- Listen to music or watch a movie
- Learn a new skill like playing a musical instrument or coding
4. find a job that makes you feel good
Instead of spending your hours working in a job or for an employer that you dislike and doesn’t provide you with the right mental stimulation, pursue one that you will enjoy more.
If working from home can help you have a better work-life balance, then you should look for companies that offer flexible work arrangements to their employees. If you would like to learn from others, then you should find a company that can provide you with team support and learning resources.
When you enjoy doing your work, you will find a greater sense of fulfilment in your life. You may even find it easier to manage stress and avoid burnout when your colleague offers you a helping hand during your difficult times when they notice that you need it.
find an employer that supports good mental health
Never trade your mental health for work! There is no point meeting your career goals when you feel sad or have no one to celebrate with.
If you’re always feeling stressed at work, it may be time to re-evaluate your career goals and consider making a change to a job that aligns with your values and interests. It's never too late to pursue a fulfilling and meaningful career path that brings you joy and satisfaction.
Employers have a role to play in this as well, by fostering a supportive work culture that values employee well-being and emphasises the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
With the right help, you can find a company with your dream career path while keeping your levels of stress at bay.
Get in touch with our specialist recruiters to start fresh with a new team and a better job fit. You can also browse through our latest job listings to find something that suits your skill set, experience and preferences.