Women at Work: When your job leaves you overwhelmed

September 2, 2018

Early mornings at the coffee shop alternate from making delicious coffee for customers to virtual assistant work on my laptop. One particular dreary day, my door swung open, revealing a regular who usually comes in much later in the day. I started to ask why she was in so early when I saw visible evidence of crying.

Being the kind of person who does not like to see people cry, I had to ask if she was OK. And with that question, the waterworks began. Coupled with bad news regarding a close friend’s health, she reluctantly admitted that after six years at a job she loved, she was feeling overwhelmed and wondering if it was time to look for new employment.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, at one time or another has experienced that crushing, crippling overwhelmed feeling at work. It is easy to feel trapped at a job you might not think you love anymore. Furthermore, putting your nose to the grindstone from sunup to sundown would be the worst way to handle this.

There are essentially two ways to deal with overwhelming feelings — either take action to get a grip on your work responsibilities, or take a break and get away if possible to remember why you loved your job to begin with. When I say get away, of course, a weeklong vacation is what comes to mind, but that is not what I mean (although if you can, you should).

There was a time in my life when I experienced crippling panic attacks that generally happened while at work. Was I overwhelmed with increased job duties and herding cats? Perhaps, but the only way I knew how to get them under control was to walk right out the front door and just get away. Fifteen minutes. That’s it. In a very short time, my cubicle, my enemy, became my friend again, and I was able to jump back in.

However, there may come a time when having a talk with your boss is necessary. One can only go home and unload on their friends and family for so long.

Having “the talk” might make you a little nervous, cause a breakout of the sweats accompanied by a little hand-wringing — this is normal. Just remember to remain objective and positive. This talk needs to be clear, and you need to be able to relay you are feeling overwhelmed not just complaining; there is a fine line.

If you have decided enough is enough and you are truly overworked and overwhelmed, make sure you are prepared. Break down your days and what you do to make sure you are not spending an exorbitant amount of time watching hilarious pet or baby videos on social media.

Make a list of your projects and priorities that you are working on and what the company needs from you. If you are taking on new projects because someone quit or is on leave, it is definitely worth talking about.

Whenever having a sit-down discussion like this, always come with a few possible suggestions that will help resolve the issue. For example, can some of your responsibilities be delegated to others? Have your boss look at your projects and make sure they are prioritized correctly.

Whether you choose to look for a new career or stay at your current job, remember to pat yourself on the back for acting like an adult and facing the issue head-on.

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