How to Cope With a Job You Hate

stressed woman with piles of paperwork and head on desk
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While everyone experiences the feeling of being in a rut or cringes at the thought of Mondays, sometimes that feeling can escalate and become much more pervasive. If you're having a few too many of those "I hate my job" days, you're not alone. But that doesn't mean that you should accept those feelings of dread that accompany even the thought of going to work. You don't have to stay at a job you hate, and you may not even have to switch jobs to stop working at a job you really can't stand. These steps may help you find greater satisfaction at your current job.

Identify What's Causing Your Job Dissatisfaction

First, try gaining a better understanding of what's behind that "I hate my job" feeling. Different people find different things they hate about their jobs, but often what people dislike most about their work overlaps with the issues that contribute to job burnout.

Mismatch of Skills

If you're overqualified, you may feel bored. If the expectations of you are too high, you may feel overwhelmed. Either way, these feelings can create significant stress.

Low Control

People need to feel that they have some control over their lives in general, and this certainly applies to jobs. If you feel you can't control what happens to you at your job, you may find that things feel more stressful. Having even a small sense of control can change how you feel about normal, everyday stressors.

High Pressure

Are there heavy consequences if you make a mistake? People often think that working long hours is the big contributor to burnout, but working in a high-pressure environment can really add to the stress.

Low Recognition

Are you recognized for your achievements? Are you adequately rewarded for your hard work? If not, it generally becomes difficult to stay motivated. We all need to feel that our work matters.

How to Deal With Dissatisfaction

Sometimes the best solution is simply to find a new job. But quitting may not be your best option—at least not right away. Whether your goal is to stay at your job long-term or just long enough to find other employment, making an effort to reduce stress and increase your overall satisfaction can go a long way.

Play to Your Strengths

To enjoy your job, you should be challenged just the right amount—not too much, and not too little. Furthermore, it's best to be challenged in the areas in which you are strong and at which you naturally excel. Talk to your employer about adjusting your responsibilities to match your strengths. Offer to take on new challenges that can help the company—things you naturally enjoy and do well—and see if the areas that are overly stressful might be better managed by someone else who excels in that area.

Give some thought to what might make your job better, and see if you can get permission from your manager to tweak your work situation and responsibilities. Keep in mind that while you might not get everything you ask for, the worst they can say is no.

Look Beyond the Office for Rewarding Experiences

If you just can't seem to find anything at work that makes you feel content and fulfilled, look outside the office for some fun and diversion. Sign up to be a volunteer for a cause you believe in, enroll in a course with a friend, or plan some weekend excursions to visit friends you don't normally get to see. Remember: There's more to life than what goes on at your workplace.

Start Your Day Off Right

A mindful morning routine can do wonders for starting your day off on the right foot. Do your best to get a good night's sleep before starting your day with a practice or activity you look forward to. Dedicate some time in your morning just for you. Do you enjoy reading the news after getting out of bed? Would a 10-minute meditation give you peace of mind to start your day? Or maybe listening to a good podcast during your commute would help you walk into the office with less dread.

Remember the Rewards

When things get difficult, remind yourself of why you're doing this in the first place. Keep your eyes on the prize and try to remember the rewards you find or used to find in your work. If you're having a difficult time, see if you can add a few extra rewards for yourself—give yourself a treat at the end of the day as a reward for hard work. Rewards can be as simple as treating yourself to a favorite meal to allowing yourself time to do something you enjoy to spending an evening with friends. 

Laugh About It

Finding the humor in your situation can turn stressors into stress relievers—or at least it can rob them of their stress-inducing power. While quick stress relievers can be an excellent first line of defense against the effects of chronic stress. They can help you turn off your body's stress response and allow you to face your work from a calm and more relaxed place. Maintaining a sense of humor and laughing can help you relieve stress and stay healthier.

Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisolepinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine, and growth hormone and increases the level of health-enhancing hormones, like endorphins. Laughter also increases the number of antibody-producing cells we have working for us and enhances the effectiveness of T cells—all of which makes for a stronger immune system. Laughter also connects people, and social support is good for stress relief. So go to a hilarious movie or a comedy club with friends, check out a humorous TV show, or plan a game night with friends who are practically guaranteed to make you chuckle.

Practice Stress Management

If you can relieve general stress, you'll likely feel less overwhelmed by specific stressors at your job. Resolve to find a form of exercise you love, whether it's biking around town with friends or horsing around at the ice skating rink. (No, you don't have to resort to a boring exercise bike at the gym to reap the stress-relieving benefit of exercise!) Learn how to meditate and do so on a regular basis. There are a variety of apps that you can get on your phone that make squeezing in meditation even easier. Learn to practice deep breathing, which you can do right at your desk when you feel like one big stress ball.

Get Support

Be sure you have support in your life. See if you can organize a supportive network of co-workers to commiserate and congratulate each other on the trials and triumphs of the job. Or create a group among your friends outside of work. These groups can work wonders for your mood!

Decide in advance if you want these groups to be informational, in which case you will want to host a speaker at each meeting, or simply a forum for sharing experiences.

Finally, if you feel overwhelmed and unable to cope, talk to a professional—you don't have to handle an overwhelming situation alone.

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