How a career change can benefit your mental health
For many of us, our jobs can be a contributing factor in poor mental health. Sometimes, the negative impact of our work on our well-being can be corrected for.
Having a conversation with your line manager, for example, can be a chance for you to point out any elements of your work that are impacting your ability to feel engaged and stay productive – this may include things such as how the team you work with is being managed.
Unfortunately, however, many employees never have these sorts of conversations with their managers, for quite understandable reasons.
If you felt an urge to bring up any issues with your manager, you may stop yourself from doing so for fear that it will reflect badly on your character. You don’t want to single yourself out as an employee who complains or who can’t meet the standards required by the company.
You may also worry that broaching the topic of your mental health could risk you being treated differently by your manager or perhaps even result in you losing your job.
Moreover, many employees will avoid raising concerns about their mental health at work because they know it is very unlikely that any significant changes can be made to those aspects of work that are bringing them down, such as the people they work with, the hours they work, and the nature and quantity of tasks they have to do.
And for employees who do take the brave step of talking to their manager about their mental health, they may face the frustrating situation of having lip service paid to their concerns but with nothing actually concrete done about them.
It’s no wonder, then, that many people who are negatively impacted by their jobs decide to make a career change.
When burn-out strikes, a lot of workers decide that enough is enough and start looking for work elsewhere. People may decide to protect their well-being by moving company or industry, changing their role slightly, or switching careers completely.
If you, too, are thinking about changing your career in some way, you may be wondering how making this change could improve your mental health. Let’s take a look at some of the potential benefits involved.
Fewer hours translates into less stress
One of the reasons your current job is impacting your mental health may be that you’re working too many hours. You may also be working overtime without pay.
This can result in you feeling extremely stressed and burnt out. By moving to a job with fewer hours, you can get back the time you need to unwind and live the rest of your life.
With less job-related stress, you may notice improvements in sleep, as well as increased engagement at work, which is an important factor in job satisfaction and overall well-being.
Colleagues you can get on with
One of the biggest factors in how we feel at work is the people we work with. In fact, your co-workers can be just as important as the job itself.
If you have toxic colleagues who gossip, mistreat you, are unfriendly, and fail to co-operate with you, this can lead to a high level of disengagement and dissatisfaction at work.
In contrast, when you work with others who share your passion, motivation, and values, this can make your job enjoyable and fulfilling, even if the job itself isn’t ideal.
A change in management style
Research shows that when bosses adopt a micromanagement style, it tends to negatively affect the mental health of employees. Micromanagement involves closely monitoring and controlling the details of an employee’s work.
And evidence suggests that this can increase the stress levels of workers, as well as make them more prone to low self-esteem and depression, mostly due to the lack of control they have over their work.
Conversely, by working with a manager who affords you independence and gives you room for personal input and creativity, you will likely feel a greater sense of meaning and purpose in your work and, in turn, notice improved mental health.
You may have this feeling that your job has become your life. Indeed, this is a reality for many people struggling in their current roles. Due to hustle culture, overwork, and the expectation to always ‘be on’, by checking emails late at night and on holiday, it can feel like one’s work is one’s identity, and that thoughts related to one’s job are inescapable.
This can be a significant contributor to issues such as chronic stress and anxiety. But, by pursuing a job or working for a company that provides you with flexibility and work-life balance, you can get the rest, relaxation, and leisure time you need to live a healthier and more fulfilling life.
Work is an important aspect of life but it should never be the only one. We need adequate time for restful sleep, being with friends and family, engaging in hobbies and personal projects, going on holiday, and for de-stressing in general. Sometimes, a career change is necessary to get your life back.
Improved work culture
The particular work culture of a company can also affect employees’ mental health. For example, a poor work culture can make you feel disconnected from co-workers and fill you with a sense of simply being a cog in a machine, not really contributing anything of value or being part of a shared vision.
In contrast, when a company prioritises team morale (perhaps through company holidays, improved office design, or certain events and activities), employees can feel more human at work and feel that sense of connection that makes work meaningful. In addition, when a company truly recognises the value of employees, be that through fair praise or rewards, it makes hard work seem worth it.
It is also an important part of building healthy self-esteem in employees. Work culture can also improve mental health by offering employees perks, such as generous holiday time, further education and learning, a gym membership, exercise classes, yoga classes, and healthy food on offer.
Taking all of the above points into account, it seems clear that a career change could potentially improve your mental health in all sorts of ways. Of course, it will be a challenge to find a job that can offer the perfect recipe for good mental health.
However, by spending an adequate amount of time applying for a new job, you can certainly pursue a new career path that will end up making a massive difference to your overall well-being.
Sam Woolfe writes for Inspiring Interns. He is particularly interested in self-development, psychology, mental health, and the future of work. Most of all, though, Sam is passionate about helping people find work that is meaningful and fulfilling. You can follow him on Twitter and find more of his work at www.samwoolfe.com.
If you’d like to discuss a career change, please get in touch on 0207 269 6144. Take a look at our job board to see our latest roles.