I have no way to differentiate one day from another. My weekdays blend together in one depressing, uncomfortable blob, and I reserve my weekend to sleep off the sludge.
I’m only 23. How is my full-time job already destroying me? I don’t have any kids or responsibilities beyond my job and paying my bills on time.
I can’t break out of the numb feeling with which full-time employment fills me. I mentally disengage for days at a time, only to find that when my free time comes, I have nothing to which to look forward.
There is no point in being present if I’m not really present. On my journey to finding a meaningful existence while working full-time, I’ve come across some helpful tips to keep chugging along:
Carve out “you” time during the week
We’re never really alone anymore, but “you” requires being completely alone. No significant other, no friends, no texting. Just be by yourself and work through what you’re feeling.
Whether you achieve this by meditating, working out, laying in bed or talking out loud in your car, you need to find at least an hour of the day to evaluate how you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it.
Understanding your reactions and emotions makes it a lot easier to process things, and it's the first step toward addressing problems you have with your job.
Stop yourself from internalizing
You might have a bad day and your boss might yell at you. That’s okay; it doesn’t mean you’re a sh*tty person, and it doesn’t even mean your boss is mad at you.
Mistakes happen, so figure out what you can do to prevent them from happening again and move on.
If you let one mistake destroy your entire day, you’ll sink deeper into the numbness and you won’t accomplish anything. Your boss will admire your thick skin, or at least be grateful for it.
Leave work at work
If you consider your job “soul-crushing,” chances are, it’s spilling over into your personal life. Or, you have no personal life. Either way, it’s not okay.
Worrying about everything you have to deal with at the office tomorrow as you’re trying to fall asleep won’t protect you. It’ll only make you tired and unproductive for the next day.
If you get an email at 11:30 pm asking you to address something that you cannot handle until the next day, just go to sleep. Analyzing every last way to get things done will not prepare you. You can still have those same thoughts tomorrow at the office, when you’re well rested.
Plan your meals for the week
Food is your cheery best friend who always puts you in a better mood. Sometimes, food is the only thing to which you have to look forward. Instead of spending an hour of work deciding what you’ll get for lunch, plan everything on Sunday.
This doesn’t mean you have to bring your lunch every day, but if you have something in the refrigerator set to go, it will save you a lot of energy. It will also help you make healthier choices.
Anything to avoid the post-lunch sluggish feeling is extremely helpful.
Ask for help when you need it
There will be days when you will not possibly be able to get everything done. Your coworkers will probably be happy to help you out if they’re having lighter days.
There is no point in taking on more than you can handle when there are people who can easily lend a hand. You are not a superhero. You have to figure out ways to make your tasks more manageable.
Listen to podcasts or awesome playlists during your commute
Think of your commute as a special time. You can’t work; you can’t text; you can’t read anything. You are ALONE.
There are tons of great podcasts out there that cover just about every topic. They’re also mostly FREE. Do some research and find a few that interest you.
If listening to people talking isn’t your thing, make yourself a solid playlist or find one on Spotify that pumps you up. It will make a huge difference in your morning mood.
Find a way to keep your hobbies alive
You need something to look forward to besides food. Join a co-ed league, attend sporting events, go to concerts, find meet-up groups or read books.
Your weekend can be so exciting and you can plan for it all week. You may just want to sleep and watch Netflix, and that’s okay, but don’t make that part of your routine, or else, you’ll hate yourself for it.
Remember you are a human, and your boss is, too
Even though his or her title and income are both significantly greater than yours, you are still a person, just like your boss. Your boss still gets diarrhea after an unfortunate Mexican meal, just like you do.
Never let your boss make you feel less than a human, and never lose sight of the fact that you are equal in reality.
Know your limits
You need to determine when enough is enough. If your job is completely unmanageable and the stress is physically affecting you, you should look into alternatives.
Quitting your job isn’t the end of the world; you will find another job.
Put yourself first
When you expend so much energy on your job, you may feel like there's nothing left for yourself.
People will invite you to do things during the week and you might feel obligated to do so. But, if you know you don’t have the energy or can’t imagine spending a few hours bullsh*tting your way through a networking event, DON’T GO. Your friends will understand.
Remember the end goal
Why did you take this job in the first place? Hopefully, you knew it would teach you something and help you get to where you want to be. If you don’t have an answer or don’t feel your answer sufficiently justifies the work you’re doing, quit.
Get out now; find a job that will be a stepping-stone to your dream job. If you don’t know what your dream job is, do some soul searching.
Surviving a difficult job is all about keeping things in perspective and taking care of yourself. The first two weeks of anything are hellish, but once you get past the adjustment period, the biggest challenge is breaking up the routine.
Don’t let yourself fall into the numbness; remember who you are and what you want. You can get through anything, and you’ll be stronger in the end.