Nothing feels worse than feeling like you’re trapped in an awful job situation. And literally, because you have to clock in forty hours a week, you really are somewhat trapped. You wish things were different – nicer boss, better pay, shorter commute, better coworkers, better job title, more benefits. Better can always be achieved, but it usually takes time. You have the freedom to leave your job whenever you’d like (depending on your state’s resignation terms), but keep in mind that irrational moves don’t come without hard consequences. Most people can’t afford to go without a few paychecks, and a gap in your resume is going to make it that much harder for you to land the next dream job.
So before you pull the plug, consider how you might be able to make ‘sticking it out’ a little more bearable. Perhaps, trying to implement the following sixteen strategies might lessen the stress of surviving a bad job. And, who knows, maybe you might actually start seeing yourself there a bit longer. Keep in mind that the future is inevitable, so you have to learn how to live in the present and cope with the things you can’t change, including a bad job.
16. Make a Buddy or Two
Sometimes making a friend or two can make all the difference in your attitude towards your work environment. If you have one or two people that you can connect with, you can focus on building those bonds and relationships. Pretty soon, you’ll actually start looking forward to going to work because you have a few healthy relationships there. If you haven’t made any good friends at work yet, it’s never too late to start connecting. Look for people who have common interests, those you could see yourself clicking with even outside of work. Chances are that other people are also looking for friends to connect with so that their work life isn’t so miserable either.
15. Stay Healthy
Unhealthy foods can trigger stress big time. Stay away from eating heavy meals that weigh you down. If you find yourself dragging by the end of the work day, what you’re eating for lunch could very likely be the culprit. Instead of eating leftover spaghetti, a burger, or other high-carb and high-fat meals, try opting for a salad that can actually give you a boost in energy. Also, examine what you’re eating for breakfast. If that bagel is weighing you down, you might want to try a Greek yogurt instead. Sometimes, what we eat can make a huge difference in our attitude and overall mood.
14. Listen to Music
If you have earbuds, use them! And don’t just put them in your ears so that others won’t bug you, but actually listen to music. Listening to music, whatever your preference might be, can be extremely therapeutic and will definitely help you feel like the work day is going by faster. And if you’re stressed out, examine the kind of music you’re listening to. Some songs with a faster beat and tempo can actually increase your anxiety. If you’re feeling stressed, try listening to more calming and relaxing music. Instrumentals can be especially relaxing as sometimes hearing lyrics can also add to the stress.
13. Block Out Negativity
If you’re already feeling down about your job, then avoid being around Debbie Downers who fuel that negativity. This will only make you feel worse. And vice versa, avoid venting to your co-workers because you never know who might also be going through your situation as well. Negativity is super contagious and can spread like a wildfire. Although people naturally want to vent, it’ll only likely make things worse. The best people to vent to regarding your job are your friends and family outside of the workplace, or even better, a professional therapist who is trained to help you cope.
12. Go Out for Walks
If you work full-time, you’re probably granted a couple of short breaks throughout the day. Use those breaks to get up and out of the office. Take a walk to the nearby coffee shop and get some fresh air. To help you remember to take regular walks, bring your sneakers and a canteen with you to work. If it helps, invite a buddy to take walks with you. You can schedule different walking days with different coworkers. Or, if you need some real breathing space, try walking alone and see if it helps to relieve your stress. Walking can help boost your cortisol and overall well-being.
11. Pursue Flexibility
Many companies are starting to offer flex schedules where employees can work from home one day out of the week. If you hear that other employees are allowed this flexibility, inquire about how you can earn it as well. You might find that the freedom to work from home and only have to go into the office four days a week rather than five will make all of the difference in the world. If your company doesn’t currently grant this option, consider making a reasonable case as to why it would be beneficial and try bringing it up to your supervisor. Nowadays, many jobs can be done remotely and don’t really require face-to-face interaction.
10. Identify Your Stressors
Sometimes, when the stress spirals out of control, it’s hard to for us to gain clarity on our situation. Instead, try to narrow down on what exact events are stressing you out and identify them when they happen. Perhaps it’s being around a certain co-worker or having to do particular task that you don’t necessarily enjoy. If you can limit or avoid your stressors as much as possible, you might find that your stress decreases. If the idea of meeting with someone to get a project done that you can do better on your own stresses you out, then try asking that person if you can just communicate via email or Skype.
9. Use Your Benefits
Most employees only use less than half of the benefits offered to them and many times, they aren’t even aware of what their benefits are. Nowadays, even contractors are being offered benefits through their hiring agency. Take a good look at your employee or contractor handbook and identify which benefits you’ve never used beyond the usual health and dental benefits. Perhaps it’s a discounted gym membership or discounts with a phone carrier. Or maybe it’s a retirement plan or stock options. If you’re unsure of how to use your benefits, enlist the help of a human resources specialist. Sometimes, using your benefits can make you feel a bit more appreciative of your job.
8. Get Busy
They call it work for a reason. If you’ve got too much time to sit and think then you’re going to end up just sitting and thinking a lot. Instead, try to keep yourself busy by taking on new projects and tasks. Keeping busy can really help keep your mind off the negativity. Also, you never know how taking on more tasks can actually work to your benefit especially towards perhaps a promotion or a raise. If you’re already busy and and drowning in a stressful sea of work that you’ll never get caught up with, then this might not be the route you’d want to take and you might want to consider finding out how to better distribute your workload instead.
7. Take On Interesting Projects
If you don’t like what you’re doing, why not try changing it up? Think of ways you might be able to transform your job by adding tasks that you enjoy. If you hear about any additional responsibilities that your department is needing to fulfill, don’t be afraid to volunteer to take them on. You might find that a change to your daily tasks might be all the change that your job needs. However, be cautious of your workload as well and speak with your supervisor about how to best distribute your other responsibilities while you take on the new tasks.
6. Look for Other Openings Within the Company
The best way to get a new job is by moving around within the same company. It’s a low-stress transition that can easily be a win-win for both you and your employer. Keep a tab on your company’s employment listings for a position that might interest you. Companies are more likely to hire in-house, so now’s also the time to start networking with other departments. It’s a great way to stay abreast of new openings before they get listed. You might not hate your job so much if you had a new boss, new department, or just a new job altogether. But if you absolutely can’t stand the company you’re working for, then you’d probably want to start looking elsewhere.
5. Write Down Daily Encouragements
At the start of each day, write down a positive encouragement on a sticky note and stick it on your computer screen or somewhere where you can easily glance at it throughout the day. If you’re religious, it can be a Bible verse, and if you’re not, it can be a simple quote such as “Carpe Diem.” In this case, cheesy is acceptable because you need cheesy to get you through the day. Go ahead and tell yourself, “Smile more. You’re beautiful.” If you continue to remind yourself of these feel-good memos, then you’ll also start to believe them. It’s that simple.
4. Pop the Sad Bubbles
If you don’t know what “pop the sad bubbles” means, look it up on YouTube (it’s trending). It’s a real way to cope with your stressors. All you have to do is, as soon as you have a negative thought, imagine it floating in a bubble above your head, and pop it with your finger. Although it sounds corny, it actually works because you’re literally popping your problems with your finger, so you really do feel like you’re doing something about them. And the best part about this coping skill is that you can do it anywhere.
3. Know That You’re Not Alone
Everyone feels ‘stuck’ in a job at some point in their career lives, but everyone copes with this feeling differently. Some continue to drag their feet, finding their motivation in providing food on the table for a family of three or more. Others are indebted to Sallie Mae for life and can’t afford any time off from a regular paycheck. Whatever the case, knowing that you’re not the only one struggling to get to work and others might even be in a more difficult situation than yours. Seeing how well others cope with their situations, can really motivate you to cope with yours as well.
2. Learn What You Can
Maximize the time that you still have in your current role by finding ways you can learn new skills. Having more skills can mean having a better, more stand-out resume that will help you land your next dream job. Learning is healthy for everyone to do, regardless of your position or title within a company. In fact, it might even be helpful to take on a new perspective of using your current job as a stepping stone to get to that dream job. This way, you don’t feel like you’re stuck and you know that your goal is to move onto bigger, and better things.
1. Just Accept It
One of the best coping mechanisms you can be taught through therapy is acceptance. If you can’t change your current situation, no matter how hard you try, then you just have to accept the way things are for now. This doesn’t mean that you completely surrender all motivation to change things. It just means that you’re going to stop overwhelming yourself with the unrealistic expectation that change needs to come sooner than later. You have to accept that your current situation is temporary and you also have to accept the reasons why you must stick it out for the time being whether it’s financial, job security, etc. But keep in mind that temporary acceptance doesn’t have to mean permanent acceptance.
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