Choosing your career is an integral part of becoming an adult in many cases. You may work toward a field you enjoy, but it might not have as positive an effect on you as you imagine it will. Around 20% of employed people in the US feel dissatisfied with their jobs. Because you spend the first 20 or more years of your life preparing for your dream career, logically, you should feel nothing but happiness when you finally break into the field.
So, why isn’t that the case with many people? Does your career choice really impact your happiness, and if so, how do you ensure your satisfaction and security when you don’t feel like your career gives it?
How does your career choice affect your mental health?
People who have problems choosing their careers are more likely to face mental distress with their mental health in general. Deciding what you want to do for, presumably, the rest of your life, is a lot of pressure.
To know how career choice impacts your mental health, you should first look at why you’re choosing the career you’re considering. Were you one of the people who attended college because you felt that you had to? In just seven years, the percentage of people who thought of college as necessary dropped from 70% to just 51%. While many college graduates swim in debt, they may wonder if their college degree is worth it and could harbour feelings of resentment toward their jobs as a result.
Determining career satisfaction involves analysing the driving force behind why a person chose their career. Some people prefer the best jobs that pay well so they can attain the lifestyle they desire. While this method is a valid way to choose a career that fits you, you may also face stress and feel like you aren’t making a difference or serving your purpose.
How to mitigate stress in a challenging workplace
In some cases, stress impacts how career choice affects your mental health. A job in a field you enjoy can turn sour quickly once you start to feel bogged down and burnt out. In this case, as well as in cases where you choose money over a desired field, you have to learn how to mitigate stress and minimize the risk of burnout, which could affect your personal and professional life.
To combat burnout, you have to recognise the signs. Finding your sleep pattern disturbed or being unable to relax, even while at home, are telltale signs of burnout. Feeling these emotions means you need to dial back a bit and learn how to balance your work with your personal life – or even cut back hours to ensure the security of your mental health.
While you may think it isn’t a great idea to talk about mental health with your company’s administration, reaching out to them could help them realize that care for mental health is a requirement for a business to operate smoothly. They may start to allow rejuvenating options, such as working from home or flexible hours, to allow more time in a comfortable environment.
Finding who you are outside of work
Some people don’t find their life’s purpose in their job, and that’s OK. If you need to feel more like yourself out of the workplace, consider finding a way to eliminate stress in your personal life. Taking up new hobbies can help you rid yourself of some of your stress. Just like how career choice impacts mental health, so does what you choose to do in your free time. Hobbies and doing other leisurely activities you love can restore your sense of control and relax you.
You must know who you are outside your workplace. By retaining your sense of self, you might find more pride and purpose in your work or learn how better to manage the stress your workload brings. You should strive to take care of yourself beyond essential self-care so you can avoid the detrimental effects of burnout.
Building better habits for your mental health
Does your career choice affect your mental health? The answer is yes, both positively and negatively. When you feel that you’re doing something you love or are paid fairly for your work, you might be more satisfied and have a higher stress threshold. Keeping your mental health in check and watching for signs of burnout can help you avoid feeling empty or at your lowest.
Ginger Abbot has written for The National Alliance for Mental Illness, HerCampus, Motherly, and more. When she’s not freelancing, she works as chief editor for the learning publication Classrooms, where you can read more of her work.