Work can be rewarding in many ways. It can give us a sense of purpose and achievement, structure to our lives, respect from others, companionship and, of course, money. But sometimes we can find ourselves stuck in a toxic working environment that is at best holding us back, and at worst seriously affecting our mental and physical health. How might counselling and psychotherapy help?
The Causes Of Work-related Stress
Most of us have experienced times when our jobs have become stressful. Perhaps there have been tight deadlines to meet, temporary staff shortages or a particularly busy period. Usually, short-term problems will right themselves and everything settles back down to a new and manageable equilibrium. Sometimes, however, the difficulties continue and we find ourselves struggling to cope. We might stop working efficiently, take a lot of time off sick and generally feel depressed or panicky. Some of the more common reasons behind persistent work-related stress include:
- difficult working relationships including discrimination, bullying and clashes of personality
- long hours that impact on family and social life
- being on call at any time of the day or night and on holiday
- unrealistic expectations
- limited feedback, recognition or support
- poor morale in the workplace
- a rigid work culture
- shift work
- a long, unreliable and/or uncomfortable commute
- money worries (especially if self-employed).
Making The Change
Sometimes we might decide to stick in a job we dislike (head down…) for a limited period of time e.g. to finish an important project or complete training for a qualification. Other times we might feel able to challenge the current situation or, if this is ineffective, leave a working environment that is doing us harm. If we are staying in a toxic work environment in a passive way there might be many reasons behind this. It could be that we feel unable to speak up about, for example, a bullying manager or we fear loss of income and difficulty finding another job.
There might be good reason for us to think this way, but also it might be that our own approach to the world or our relationship with change itself is holding us back. See my post ‘Change: Making The Familiar, Unfamiliar’ for more on this point. And, of course, other difficulties can often compound work-related stress, for example if we are also going through a relationship break-up or are experiencing serious health issues.
How Can Counselling And Psychotherapy Help?
Counselling and psychotherapy provide a safe space in which to explore what is going on in our lives. A good therapist will help us untangle a confusing mess of feelings about our working lives, will challenge our motives for staying in an environment that might be making us miserable and will support us emotionally as we start to take risks and make changes for the better.
If you live or work within reach of Brighton and Hove and my approach to psychotherapy and counselling interests you, please contact me via email or telephone 07585 910742 for more information and to arrange an initial consultation. Emailing in the first instance seems to work best.
Copyright Caroline Clarke, Private Practice Counselling and Psychotherapy in Brighton and Hove, Sussex.
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