There’s a lot to be said for the impact a 9-5 can have on your mental health.
In this instance, although not always the case, I’ll be talking about the positives.
Allow me to digress.
Mindfulness burst onto the scene a couple of years ago. Everyone bulk bought mandala colouring books, invested in meditation guides and began to slow down the pace as the world was just starting to speed up. It was a popular movement with busy millennials, struggling to switch off, and rightly so. I still practise it on the daily, so I don’t disagree with the fact we could all do with taking a break, practising our breathing and finding more time to come offline, but I’m also a firm believer that a stimulating job with a steady income can also provide you with peace of mind like no other. Believe it or not, doing more can actually be good for us.
I know this isn’t the same for everyone and it might be an unpopular assertion with many who are hovering around a similar age bracket to me (the 25-34s) but hear me out.
Twice since university, I have found myself unemployed. Twice in my life my mental health has suffered.
You guessed it. The times I’ve felt my most anxious or depressed is when I’ve had no job to turn up to. No work colleagues. No steady income. No direction. No vision of the future. My self-esteem suffered, meaning my confidence took a knock, which meant I didn’t want to go out, which meant I didn’t see my friends, which led to me feeling incredibly low, alone and isolated. Not to mention confused, lost and a little out of focus.
For me (and I know this doesn’t apply to everyone, with some finding work a real struggle and at times impossible) having something to do each day keeps me sane. I might not have loved every job I’ve had, and it’s easy to say now I am head over heels for the one I have, but even when I didn’t love my 9-5, it still forced me up and out each day, provided me with the cash flow to allow me to do the things I love and provided the boost to my self-esteem I so quickly lost when sat in my pyjamas, applying for jobs, hiding from the world. A job takes the attention away from you and your own thoughts and having to get up, get dressed, smile and function can be the difference between a poorly mind and a sound one.
Of course, there are times where the job is the problem. You can have a boss who’s a bit of a shit and you might not click with your coworkers. The tasks themselves might be too much to handle and the pressure can be all consuming, but if you feel as though your mental health is suffering, try not to jump straight to slowing down the pace without closing your ears off from all the mindfulness chat to consider whether it could, in fact, be the opposite. You might find you have too much time on your hands, which can be just as damaging as having too little.
Whether it’s freelance work, a classic 9-5 set up, or something with an entirely different work pattern, spend time finding a job that works for you because I’m fairly certain it can be the key to keeping you and your brain cells on the straight and narrow.
Just some food for thought.