You felt fantastic over the weekend. The sun was out, there was a lift in your step. Then it comes around. That deadweight feeling in your gut. Work is back on tomorrow. Maybe you start to feel anxious. You notice that you are feeling irritable and maybe even a little depressed. Sleep does not come easy, and you are tossing and turning with each deafening tick-tock of the clock.
For most people, there comes a point in their work life where they may feel bored by their job. Perhaps some conflict in the workplace leaves you with a bitter taste. Perhaps it is simply time to find a new job. There may be two psychological conditions, however, which may have crept into the picture. Does your Back To Work Doldrums have any of these features?
Burnout: Burnout is caused by prolonged psychological stress that comes from a chronic state of feeling overly taxed by work demands. There are three indicators of burnout. Firstly – exhaustion, thinking about work brings about a heavy sense of fatigue. Waking up in the morning thinking about going to work leaves you with a big sigh of fatigue – and you have not even started. a lack of enthusiasm for what lies ahead. You cannot find a single element of your work which engages you. You are just not interested, and the thought of picking yourself up to go into work is beyond uninspiring. Secondly, you feel cynical about your work. You ask yourself what the point is. You feel quite isolated from the people you work with and you are just going through the motions. You find yourself withdrawing more and more from your colleagues and soon you’re eating lunch on your own, or not even eating lunch. Thirdly, you do not feel like you are achieving much. The demoralisation leads to a sense of unworthiness or incompetence in even the most basic things at work. These three elements combine to result in reduced efficacy, efficiency and ultimately impacts on job performance. Many professionals in the caring profession experience high levels of burn-out. Those in very demanding jobs with constant time pressures can also experience burn-out.
Adjustment Disorder: Adjustment Disorder is a diagnosable mental health condition that is characterised by some depressive features due to a stressor. Work conflict, financial worries, relationship concerns and any number of significant life stressors can combine to overwhelm an individual’s coping mechanisms. In this case, it may not just be something at work that is stressful, but a combination of stressful life events and work that leads to distress. Adjustment Disorder shares some symptoms of clinical depression, such as tearfulness, feelings of hopelessness, and loss of interest in work or activities, however, sleep and eating may not be impacted, and it does not lead to suicidal thinking. It can cause problems with your ability to function at work.
Both of these conditions would benefit from professional help. Prolonged exposure to stress can lead to further vulnerability to clinical depression and if treated early can resolve quite easily. So if you are feeling the Back To Work Doldrums, and if it doesn’t lift within a week or two, maybe it’s time to seek help.