When Work Feels Like Way More Than Work

By Sherry Atanasio, LMSW

We spend over half of our waking day at our jobs. If we’re lucky, our colleagues are also our friends, and we take pride in every hour we put in at work. But others dread the mere thought of waking up in the morning, have work-related nightmares, and impatiently count the minutes going by while in the office. And then there’s everyone else in between. There are many factors that can influence our satisfaction at work— changes in management, increased stress, burnout, life circumstances, mental health, communication/conflict, etc. Sometimes it’s best to revitalize by finding a new job in our careers, but it’s often the fear of the unknown or guilt about abandoning others that keeps us from moving on. Other times, we know it’s not about the job, but rather our tendency to take on more than we need to, or being unable to switch off our brains at the end of the day. If you’re noticing that you’ve been struggling at work, have you experienced any of the issues below?

  • Difficulty concentrating or completing tasks on time

  • Feeling irritable, frustrated, or tearful at work

  • Conflict with management or colleagues

  • Ruminating about work or deadlines even when you’re not at work, or even once the project has been already completed

  • Showing up late, especially if punctuality was never an issue before

  • Feeling overwhelmed, drained, or hopeless more often than not

  • Changes in appetite

  • Increased illness, possibly stress-related, which may result in increased work absences

  • Losing sleep from waking up intermittently or insomnia due to overthinking

If you’ve been having difficulties with some of these issues, don’t suffer silently or wait for it to resolve itself. Your emotional health and your career are too important to be put on the back-burner. Work burnout can be serious and may take some time to recover from. At worst, it can cause us to doubt ourselves or make us question if we’re in the right career even when we’ve never had cause to doubt this before. Oftentimes, it will take learning some skills to balance demands better or practicing acceptance in order to adjust or even move on. While trying to resolve these issues may seem overwhelming, it will be worth it in the long run. 

Sherry Atanasio is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy.  If you would like support with work related stress or burnout, visit cobbpsychotherapy.com and learn how therapy can help.