Has working from home left you feeling despondent towards your job? Are you reexamining your career in lockdown? An expert tells Stylist what’s going on and how to deal with these thoughts.
Earlier this week, Stylist investigated the “hitting a brick wall” feeling that many of us working from home are experiencing at this time in the pandemic. An expert explained that our initial fight response is starting to subside, so we’ve been left feeling tired, disassociated and anxious. This state of “freeze or flop” is just another survival technique, which should pass when things start to resemble normal life again.
But for some, these feelings and thoughts go even deeper.
What’s the point in continuing to work? What am I really achieving by doing this job? Should I look at doing some training? What is my purpose?
These are some of the questions that you might be asking yourself right now.
To find out more about this way of thinking and how we can address it, Stylist’s editor Alix Walker chatted with executive coach and psychiatrist Lopa Winters on this week’s Working from Home with Stylist podcast.
The first thing we need to recognise and remember, according to Winters, is that we are thinking beings. She says: “The closer we get to the issues of our mortality; we get in touch with those meaning of life questions [like] ‘what’s the point of this?’ We usually work really hard to keep those thoughts at bay, or most of us wouldn’t get up in the morning.”
Winters explains that this kind of defence mechanism – manic defence – is healthy for us. If we didn’t keep busy and distract ourselves, we really would wake up and think about our mortality every day. But now we’re being forced to stop and put ourselves in touch with these difficult, painful aspects of the mind.
This can lead to feeling despondent, especially towards our jobs. But Winters advises us to just allow this feeling in, describing it as “really natural and ordinary and OK”. But how should we then continue to deal with this confusing way of thinking? And could it be an indicator of seriously examining our career – maybe even changing it?
“You can question yourself and the thoughts,” says Winters. “So I’d be asking ‘why do I have this thought?’ Would I change it [career] practically? It’s important to be realistic. It’s great to dream; but the grass is not always greener.”
“It might not be the right time, or it might well be – it might be that your hand is being forced and it’s actually the perfect time to retrain.”
If these despondent thought patterns are affecting your work, it’s also important to be honest about your feelings with colleagues if you feel comfortable.
“Managers and teams need to find a balance, it’s a bit like parenting. You have to be authentic,” says Winters. “I think there’s a real pressure to learn 5 million new skills, and that’s just not how most people are feeling.”
She advises reading the (virtual) meeting room and being real by saying “actually I’m feeling like I can’t be arsed today” and just seeing what you actually can do with the meeting.
“See what comes,” she continues. “Because actually, the creativity that you might not have thought of might come from that mood, that feeling.”
Images: Getty, Stylist
Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…