You are More than a Job Title
When you meet someone new, chances are the question “what do you do?” comes up within the first five minutes of your conversation. In the United States, we put a great deal of value on our jobs; sometimes to the point that we define ourselves by our job title. This may not seem like a big deal, but when your identity is your career, it can negatively impact your mental health.
It’s great to love your job. It makes life much more pleasant when you like the place you have to spend most of your time at, but work can play too large of a role in your life. A 2013 OECD Better Life Index Report found that the United States ranks 28th among other advanced nations when it comes to work-life balance; that’s only 9th from the bottom. If you do some of the following things, it’s time to reevaluate your priorities to try to give yourself a more balanced life. Is your job really worth compromising your relationships, health and family time?
1. Miss important family functions or activities often
2. Continue to work after you get home
3. Check work email when you aren’t in the office
4. Don’t make time for your hobbies and interests
5. Don’t make time for exercise
6. Work so late that your sleep is compromised
7. Spend the weekends at work
8. Don’t take any breaks during the day
How Your Mental Health is Affected
When you get up and go to work in the morning, it gives you a sense of purpose. No matter what your job is, you are contributing to something larger. Sometimes people let their self-esteem become directly tied to your job, so they feel that they are only as good as their performance review. If they get negative feedback for their work, they take it very personally. These thoughts combined with work habits that result in neglecting your own needs and your family, can lead to high levels of stress, burnout and even depression.
Another reason it’s unhealthy to make your job your identity is the simple fact that no job is permanent. You can get laid off or decide to retire. People who have make their career the most important part of their lives don’t handle these circumstances very well. When they no longer have their job, they lose all sense of self- worth.
So, What Should You Do?
Instead of asking yourself “what” you are, ask yourself “who” you are. Think about your life; you may be a lawyer, but who are you as a person? Are you a mom, grandma, sister, daughter, husband, wife, son? What are your values? What do you like to do? Are you a runner, painter, car enthusiast? When you stop and think of all of these things, you can begin to realize who you are and see that you are way more than your job title. Here are a few things you can do to help yourself each day:
· Add a scheduled break to your work calendar, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. Get up from your desk,
take a walk around the building or go out and get some fresh air.
· Schedule time for lunch each day – dine in the cafeteria or head out to the local deli to take a break
from the work environment.
· Don’t take your work home with you – physically or mentally. Spend your free leisure time doing
something non-work related and as hard as it is, try to keep work out of your mind when you aren’t
· If possible, turn off all email alerts so you aren’t tempted to check when you aren’t in the office.
· Leave work on time as much as possible. You will never finish everything on your to-do list in one
day and the more hours you work, the less productive you become.
· Use all of your paid vacation days and personal days. Even if you don’t have a trip planned, give
yourself a break and do something you want.
· When you’re sick, stay home and take care of yourself.