Here are some of the most common reasons people feel like they are losing their minds at work – and what you can do about it!
1. Every morning feels like a blur.
You find yourself frequently rushing around like a chicken without a head. You get showered, get dressed, give the kids their breakfast, and then ship them off to school.
If everything goes well, you’ll be able to catch the train on time; but if there is even one slip up, the whole morning can be disastrous (not exactly the best precedent to set for the rest of your day).
Go to bed 15-30 minutes earlier and wake up 15-30 minutes earlier. Use the extra time to chunk morning tasks into something more manageable and sane.
Also, consider using the extra time to sit outside with some coffee, read the newspaper, or do some praying and meditation. A little bit of “me time” can help get your attitude right before taking on the rest of the world.
2. You let coworkers get under your skin too easily.
It’s bad enough you have to listen to your kids whine and complain, but now you have to deal with it at work. Some people never seem to grow up.
Who is it this time? The gossiper? Your office buddy who needs a second opinion on everything? Or maybe it’s the anonymous asshole who never fills the coffee pot after taking the last drop?
Let’s face it – some people are rude, disrespectful, and just plain annoying.
Sucky people exist, but we don’t need to let them get under our skin. Put yourself in their shoes and understand that everyone is trying to get through the day in their own way.
Try making your interactions as pleasant as possible by laughing away the small stuff or cracking a joke. Do whatever it takes to get the good vibes flowing, and don’t take anything too personally.
If people get too pushy: find a quick escape (“I really should get back to this report”), ignore them, tell them directly to stop, or even report them to the manager if the situation gets out of control.
For more tips check out the book The No Asshole Rule.
3. You can’t find time to eat.
Some tell me they are just “too busy to eat.” But if you don’t get the proper nutrition, you can kiss productivity goodbye. Without food you can’t concentrate, you lose stamina quickly, and you’re more likely to daydream about stuff like…eating.
Don’t be ridiculous, take the 20-40 minute break and find yourself something to eat. Both your mind and body will appreciate the boost.
For the best results, eat something balanced and healthy, but any food is always better than no food. Consider leaving some snacks around the office for quick replenishment throughout the day.
4. Your boss treats you like a door mat.
Typically you want to be a good lil’ worker and not get the people in charge upset. And there is nothing wrong with wanting to please your boss (or bosses).
However, there are limits. There are times where the worker-boss relationship can be detrimental, bordering on abusive.
Having too much work to do, or being talked down by your boss on a daily basis, can all have significant psychological effects on your well-being (not to mention your productivity).
Stress has been shown to be most prevalent in individuals who are on the lower end of hierarchies, which leaves the average worker very susceptible to high levels of stress and anxiety.
In Good Boss, Bad Boss, Stanford professor Robert Sutton explains how a good boss should be receptive to feedback from his or her employees and respond to those employees with dignity.
Obviously, not all bosses show this kind of understanding. However, you can test the waters by expressing your concerns and seeing what your boss is willing to do to improve working conditions. Make sure you voice your opinion as respectfully as possible.
If your boss isn’t willing to budge at all – and you absolutely can’t stand him – it may be time to start looking for a new and more tolerable job.
5. You have trouble sleeping at night.
By the end of the day you may have a lot of pent up energy, aggression and frustration. This is a cocktail of emotions that is sure to leave you up all night with your mind racing.
Poor sleeping habits can become a downward spiral. Just one night of tossing and turning can leave you worn out for the rest of the day, dozing off at work, and then having the same troubles the very next night.
A few years ago I had insomnia and searched for a number of ways to help fall sleep. One of the most effective ways I found was using hypnosis. Basically, I counted down from 50 and consciously slowed down my breathing between each number. Each step represented a more “sleepful state,” and often (with practice) I would be sound asleep before I even got down to 0.
Part of the reason I was so effective at this was because I was training to be a hypnotist at the time. However, it’s really not that hard, and you can get good instructions from books like Paul McKenna’s I Can Make You Sleep: Overcome Insomnia Forever, which also comes with a “Guided Hypnosis CD” that can do a lot of the work for you.
If you’ve tried hypnosis already, or you are too spooked out about it: also try exercising more. Exercise can help release excess energy. The more physically active you are, the more likely it is that you will be tired by the end of the day, and therefore be able to get the rest you need.
6. Your office is a mess.
People sometimes underestimate how much their environment reflects their mental state. Does your office have loose papers scattered across the room, coffee stains, and an overflowing waste bin? Do you walk into the office every morning and it looks like a cyclone hit it?
Guess what – it’s time to re-assess your cleaning habits at work.
Keeping things clean and organized isn’t that hard and you don’t need an elaborate system to do it.
Spend 20 minutes every Friday afternoon emptying out the garbage, vacuuming crumbs on the floor, dusting behind the computer, or whatever (this is assuming your company doesn’t already have someone hired to do this stuff for you).
As for papers:
1. Organize a couple of folders or binders.
2. Label them according to your tasks throughout the work week.
3. Find a space for them in your office where they aren’t going to move.
Keep it simple stupid. You’re not trying to replicate Wikipedia, and dust bunnies don’t actually grow fangs and suck blood if they aren’t cleaned up right away. The point is to introduce some sanity into the workplace, not become a neat freak.
Allot no more than 25-30 minutes a week and make an active effort to keep things tidy and in order.
7. Troubles at home.
Sometimes the most common distractions at work aren’t work-related, but our relationships at home with family, friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, or roommates.
An unhealthy home life spills into an unhealthy work life (and vice versa).
If we have stress at home, we often carry that negative energy into the workplace as well. That means poor relationships with family and friends might also tell us why coworkers so easily get under our skin (#2). We seek healthy social bonds, but when we don’t get them we sometimes think the whole world is conspiring against us.
Address the problem. Poor relationships need to be brought into consciousness and reconciled, not suppressed where problems can grow and exacerbate.
If you have to: introspect on the relationship and figure out where the core issues lie. Then, have a civil conversation with the person (with the intent to find common ground). When conversations aren’t possible, seek new and positive relationships elsewhere (not always easy, but sometimes necessary).
8. You recently lost a loved one.
Time can sometimes be a cruel teacher, especially when you lose those who you deeply care for. A recent death can make life freeze in place. You don’t want to go anywhere. You can’t concentrate on getting anything done. And you don’t want to go to work. Instead, you just want to sit at home, cry, and reflect.
And, depending on the person, you may also have funeral plans to arrange – which can be another burden in itself during these depressing times.
Request time off. These are those rare times where you probably want some solitude and you need the time away from work. Most people will be understanding and let you do your thing. Try to take things slowly.
In addition, find some way to celebrate the person’s life. Maybe watch a favorite movie you used to both like, or go to some spot you used to have deep and philosophical conversations. Find a way to reconcile their passing with honor and fortitude.
Then take your best step forward.
9. You need a vacation.
Sometimes nothing is wrong at work. You are just tired of the day-to-day rat race and you want some time to enjoy the finer moments in life.
If you have been budgeting yourself correctly, you should have some money saved away to go on a small vacation. Make sure you let your employer know in advance when you plan on taking time off, and be sure to book any hotels, tours, or attractions beforehand.
Also, leave plenty of free time and flexibility in your schedule, just in case you want to lounge by the pool, read, or go out to dinner. This is a time to relax and enjoy yourself – don’t make it too busy.
10. Your job just sucks.
Maybe after it is all said and done you just don’t like your job. You tried to make it more pleasurable, you tried to stick with it, but you simply can’t. Maybe it just doesn’t suit your personality. Or maybe the job just really does suck.
Start looking for a new and better job. Although a new career can seem daunting, in the long-run it might be the best decision you ever made. You can start by follow many of my tips at 50 Things To Do While Unemployed – but please don’t quit your job until you have another one secured.
Discover more tools to daily growth in the digital guide The Science of Self Improvement