Maintaining Sanity When Your Job Is Crazy

We typically spend much of our time at work. If your job if full of impossible deadlines, office politics, overly demanding bosses, or unethical practices, it is reasonable to expect stress, depression, and anxiety to follow. This places us at high risk for family problems, health problems, and engaging or relapsing into addictive behaviors. In this economy, looking for a new job is rarely an option. We have to find a way to unwind, stay positive, and endure.

Stress-Relieving Techniques

Whatever stress relieving techniques are effective at the end of the day or on the weekend may also be effective if done for a few minutes throughout the day. For example, if 30 minutes of meditation is helpful after work, try 5 minutes of medication every couple of hours during the work day. If your morning walk is helpful in clearing your head, try taking a walk during your lunch break. By addressing the stress as it comes, there is less build up at the end of the day.

Planning is key to incorporating stress relief during the workday. Using an alarm or adding stress management techniques to a calendar can help make certain that managing stress does not become forgotten. One may need to bring a pair of sneakers to work for that lunch time walk or a pair of headphones to listen to an inspirational speaker. Thinking through what may be helpful head of time increases the likelihood it will actually happen.

Use Fantasy to Your Advantage

We all fantasize on occasion. If we work in a crazy job environment, we likely fantasize a lot. What would it be like if my boss quit? What if I could get my co-worker fired? What if we lost that big account? All of these fantasies are normal, but they are not helpful. They are very negative and engaging in them does not inspire any real solutions. Instead, use your fantasies to think of solutions: What if we landed another account and did not need that troublesome account anymore? What could I do to make that happen? My boss is up for promotion. Is there anything I can do to help her chances? This is more than just thinking positive. This is using your creativity to develop plans for making real change.

It should also be noted that fantasy should be time limited. Too much fantasy can impact productivity. It can also make us more frustrated with reality. A few minutes a day should be enough time.

Use Paid Time Off Strategically

Many workers save up their vacation time for a week long vacation and it works well for them. For others, taking a a day off every month is more practical and a better way of managing the stress that can build while waiting for the week-long break. It can be helpful, for example, to schedule a day off immediately following a big project or a week of working double shifts. If you know your boss dumps his end of the month report on you the day before the end of the month, schedule well ahead of time to be off on that day.

Occasionally events take us away from work and the hard worker within us returns to work too soon. If you have a baby, take the full 12 weeks allowed by the Family Medical Leave Act. If you have jury duty, volunteer to sit on a week long-trial. These events can be considered gifts of time away from the office.

Provide a Quality Good or Service

If you work in a crazy job, you may not get recognition from your boss or your customers, but if you do a quality job you can walk out the door each day with personal satisfaction. When we do our best in difficult situations it builds the character and endurance needed for greater things. Perhaps today's customer will be tomorrow's boss at the great new job you got because you were able to provide what the customer needed in spite of the circumstances. The self-discipline and determination that is built in you through the job may be needed for some other task in life. There are many benefits beyond pride and personal satisfaction that may not be realized for years to come.

Finding Support

Support can take many different forms. Support on the job could come from a supervisor, human resources, co-workers, those you supervise, or in some cases even your customer. A supervisor could be helpful in balancing workloads or resolving a conflict with a co-worker. Human resources may be able to assist with adjusting your job description or addressing a hostile environment. Co-workers and those you supervise may have excellent ideas about how to solve problems. A customer may be willing to adjust a deadline. Sometimes workers feel unsupported because they have only asked one potential supporter for assistance when there are others available to help.

When support on the job is not an option, consider support from outside sources. Perhaps a mentor can help with the problem solving process. Maybe it is time to use the Employee Assistance Program, an outside counselor, or a support group. If depressive or anxious thoughts are beginning to take over or if one finds themselves returning to an addiction, it is time for professional assistance. Again support may be available that goes unused because the worker failed to ask.

Working at a crazy job can be draining and demoralizing, but sometimes it has to be done. Workers who intentionally combat the negative emotions that naturally follow can find they are not just productive, but also growing.


Cyndy Adeniyi is a counselor and founder of Out of the Woods Life Coaching. She enjoys hiking, Zumba, and flea markets in her spare time. She lives with her husband and two children in Maryland.