What if Your Work is Causing You to Feel Depressed?
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT, RScP
Heart-Centered Career Transition and Job Search Coach | Life Strategies and Stress Management Coaching
It is no secret that this has been a tough year for everyone on the planet. No matter what your occupation or circumstance in life, 2020 was a giant black hole for a lot of us.
I didn't realize for myself until this past week how much anxiety I had been experiencing this past year until I felt a wave of relief after getting my vaccine scheduled. I had thought I was holding it together pretty well. But apparently, I have also been holding a lot of pent-up emotion inside.
And I know I am not alone.
I know others have had their own troubles. Managing child care issues, for example, or being laid off from work or having hours cut back, and the resulting financial strains create enormous anxiety. Worrying about elderly parents or what to do about your young child's schooling has also been a pressing concern for people.
As for teachers, I know this has been an incredibly stressful year. It has created an enormous amount of pressure and anxiety. And all of that emotion can turn into depression if you aren't careful or paying attention.
I am seeing a definite uptick in my business as more and more teachers consider whether to sign their letters of intent for next year. One of my friends has already taken retirement in the middle of the year. She retired earlier than she had planned because she just got sick and tired of what was going on at her school. She didn't feel respected or supported by her administrations anymore. And that wears on you after a while.
Ultimately, it wears you down.
When your work isn’t in alignment with your core values, that can also make you unhappy. I remember an early client telling me that she felt she was being asked to do things that weren't ethical, much less in her students' interest. She couldn't do it anymore.
When considering whether you can continue to teach in light of the added stress and demands of the job, you need to think about how you feel on a day-to-day basis. Everyone has the occasional bad day. But if most of your days leave you feeling exhausted and physically and emotionally overwhelmed, it may be time to make a change.
Another major consideration is whether the work is fulfilling you creatively. If it’s not, then you might feel unhappy. Or maybe it’s stopped being an intellectual challenge, so you feel bored.
Whatever may be making you unhappy with your work, you need to figure it out. If it’s not fulfilling, it can lead to all sorts of problems. When you are unhappy with your work, it can bleed over into other parts of your life, including your health and relationships.
Finances can also a huge source of unhappiness.
If your work isn’t providing for you and your family financially, it’s easy to feel dissatisfied and restless. Teachers often feel a disconnect between how hard they work and their paycheck at the end of the pay period. They tell themselves it's not about the money. But when it feels like a struggle to get by all the time, it can be depressing.
The good news is that you have choices.
You always have a choice. YOU are the architect of your life! And that includes your career.
This should give you an immediate boost in happiness and confidence. If you don’t like how things are right now and aren’t happy, you can change things. There are all sorts of options that you can pursue.
The key to success is not to give up.
You can find something that will make you happy and will fulfill you.
You can combine your passions with your work. Find something that can make you money and that you also enjoy doing.
Life is too short to spend it doing something you hate. As long as you are breathing, you have a chance to make a change!
There may be ways to tweak what you’re doing now, so you feel happier. Sometimes changing a grade level or a subject or a school or district can make a big difference. Sometimes looking for and finding something totally different is the key to your future happiness.
In some cases, you might need a total overhaul of your career. You'll only know that after you have done some deep reflection and considered all your options.
You only get one life to live—so live the best one you can. If your work isn’t making you happy and likely never will, it’s time to make some changes.