Before we get into what you can do if you are feeling stressed, depressed or are suffering anxiety as a result of your job lets take a look at a few numbers. The biggest thing to remember is you are not alone!
In the UK in 2017, 526,000 people suffered with work-related stress, depression or anxiety, resulting in 12.5 million working days lost (Health and Safety Executive). These are just the numbers that we know about. What about all of those people who suffered in silence? In 2017, 56 of these 12.5 million ‘lost’ days were mine.
Stress, depression or anxiety also accounted for 40% of all work-related ill health and 49% of all working days lost due to ill health.
If you work in the public sector and you suffer stress, depression or anxiety as a result of your job then you are in good company. Human health and social work activities and public administration and defence have the highest numbers of staff who suffer. So hands up if you work in the NHS or the Civil Service?
The main things that caused stress, depression and anxiety were: workload, lack of support, violence, threats or bullying and changes at work.
Am I describing you?
If this is you then I want you to take a few seconds and say out-loud ‘everything is going to be ok. I may feel like this at the moment, but this too will pass’.
It’s hard enough to get through the day when you’re feeling like this so I’m not going to give you a big list of things you have to do or major changes to make to your life. The advice I am going to give is based on my own experience and what helped me.
- Do you need a break?
When my job was causing me to suffer with stress and anxiety and things got pretty bad, I went to my doctor and after we chatted (and I cried) he said ‘what would you like me to do?’ I told him that I needed some breathing space and that I felt like some time away from work would really help me make sense of things and work out what I was going to do. He told me that breathing space was an excellent way of describing it and signed me off for two weeks. This was the first time I’d ever been signed off work and I will be honest – I felt really guilty! However the need to look after myself was so much stronger. When I look back now I can see that my decision to ask for some breathing space was my first step towards putting myself first. I haven’t stopped since.
2. Give yourself a big warm hug
The best thing you can do in these circumstances is just be kind to yourself. No guilt allowed here. If you need a day to binge-watch Netflix and not leave the sofa then tell yourself its ok. Allow yourself the time you need to rest. Its ok to have days like this! Just tell yourself its ok and then get back on track the next day. This is also the time to do lots of self-care. You need to break out your comfy loungewear, snuggly socks and a good book. Rest and relax. Your body and your mind will thank you.
3. So what’s next?
The way you are feeling is not your fault. Do not blame yourself. Something in your job (or more than one thing) is causing you to suffer. Do you know what it is? Can anything be done to change it? Once you know the answer to these questions then you have a decision to make. Can you go back to work and ask for changes that mean you no longer have to suffer? Or is the situation now un-fixable?
For me the situation was un-fixable. Sadly when I was signed off work I received no support from the company that I had worked hard for, for the past 9 years. This made me realise that I didn’t want to work for them anymore. I became completely disillusioned with the whole company and I knew had to come up with an escape plan.
Do you need an escape plan?
If the answer is yes then don’t panic! You don’t have to say ‘I quit’ today! There is a process you can follow to get your mindset in a strong, positive place; things you can do to gain clarity on what you should do next; a step-by-step plan you can put into place to help you though the process; and people who can help you take the action to make this a reality!
I’ve got lots of FREE stuff that can help you with all of this – I’ve listed it all for you right under here 🙂