It’s Not You… It’s Your Work!

Not quite feeling like your usual bubbly self from nine-to-five? Like a relationship that just doesn’t seem to be doing it for you any more, it might be time to break up with your job.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Not quite feeling like your usual bubbly self from nine-to-five? Like a relationship that just doesn’t seem to be doing it for you any more, it might be time to break up with your job.
Corbis/Click Photos
Corbis/Click Photos


Some working days are harder than others. But when a rough day turns into a beyond-draining week and then what feels like the longest month in history, the problem may lie in what you’re doing from nine-tofive. Just look at the figures: a survey by on employee health at work in 2013 showed that 60 percent of Singaporean employees felt mentally exhausted as stress, depression and other factors have increased their mental fatigue. But before you bring your working world crashing down in a fit of exasperation, zero in on what exactly is causing your job-fuelled blues to find out how to fix it.


The printer runs out of paper and your temperature boils hotter than the dodgy kettle in the office kitchen. While being overcome by agitation might have started to feel normal in your workplace, it could be an indication that you are feeling down and out in your job.

“Being unhappy will often cause you to feel on edge or slightly anxious,” says career and executive coach Tina Monk. “Little things become big things and feel like they are out of your control.” Apart from irrational outbursts over stationery, Tina points out that you could also find your hands getting the shakes at random times, experience hot flushes in meetings and cry at work.


If this sounds like you, Tina says it’s a good idea to get a second opinion on how you’re coping at work. “Ask a close colleague of yours to let you know if they notice any sort of changes in you, or if you’re acting out of character, so you can tell when you are stressed,” she advises. “If this is the case, you’re in a position to do something about it.” To help bring those stress levels down, Alex Malley, author of The Naked CEO: The Truth You Need to Build a Big Life, says that when you’re not at work, make the most of opportunities to disconnect from all technology (think mobile phone and laptop). “Focus on making time for yourself or friends and family,” he says. “Give yourself a chance to unwind and reboot. If I can do it as a chief executive, you can too!”


Pushing yourself to achieve your best is admirable, but when your mind and body suffer as a result of chronic stress, it can put your health in danger. “Some stress is good for us. This is called eustress – it’s motivating and it gets us to do what’s needed,” Tina explains. “But many of us have flipped to the other side and have so much on our plate that we are in distress.” So, if you’ve had a lingering cold, flu or other infections, and sleep disturbances or appetite changes, working too hard may be what’s causing it. Things like loss of libido, anger outbursts, occasional crying, forgetting things or a drop in your performance can all be linked to work-related stress as well.


“I grew up with a mother who suffered from depression, so if you feel stress is taking a mental or physical toll on you, I can tell you from experience it’s really important not to keep it to yourself,” Alex explains. “Speak to a loved one or contact a healthcare professional about how you are feeling. Plus, you should talk to your boss; if she doesn’t know how you’re feeling, she won’t be able to help you.”


It’s far from ideal when you feel like you’re not the right fit for a job – especially when you’ve completely stretched yourself to get it in the first place. “Like many others, you may feel like you’re underperforming because the goal posts keep being moved; no sooner do you reach one, when you’re slapped with another,” Tina explains. “Or you see others getting promoted or pay raises, and you’re not.” On top of that, feeling disjointed from your job could potentially be put down to boredom.


Alex suggests asking yourself, “Why do I feel like this?” “If your answer is based on a mistake that you made, or an isolated incident that has rattled your confidence, remember that these are the real character-building moments in life that everyone goes through,” he explains. Although, if you still feel like this isn’t the right job for you, Alex says to be brave and let your passions guide you to something else that you’ll enjoy.


If you’ve tried to find solutions to your work-related problems but nothing gives, it could be time to break up with your job. And while it’s completely normal to be scared of big decisions, Alex stresses you need to be brave when making tough choices as it will work out better for you in the long run. “If finding a job you’re passionate about means a lot to you, possessing the courage to take that first step on the journey towards it is essential,” he says. “Don’t let fear and embarrassment get in the way of your dreams. You have to have courage to fail if you genuinely wish to pursue a big life.”

Breaking point

If you’ve experienced any combination of these factors, you and Arianna Huffington, CEO and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post and author of Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder, have more in common than you know. After collapsing from exhaustion back in 2007, she decided to change her life to better her health and well-being. “Meditation, yoga, getting enough sleep, renewing ourselves and giving back are all ways to make us better at our jobs. At the same time, they make us aware that our jobs don’t define who we are,” says Arianna.