All through childhood, and even into young adulthood, one of the most commonly asked questions is, “What do you want to be when you grow?” Most children answer with “firefighter” or “veterinarian” but as the years go on we develop a sense of who we are, what we like, and what we truly want to do, and our answers become more complex; “firefighter” turns into “ criminal defense lawyer” and “veterinarian” turns into “pediatric nurse practitioner.” A lot goes into the decision making process of what we want to do for the rest of our lives. We go through the questions, “Will I be happy at this job?” “Will I make sufficient money?” “Will I fit into the work environment?” “Can I afford the education required to get this degree?” But one question that seems to slip most minds is, “How will this job affect me physically, mentally, and emotionally?”
There is no such thing as a perfect career choice because all jobs come with negatives, as well as positives; however, do these negatives out weigh the positives? For example, most high paying jobs such as lawyers and doctors are what many people strive to be due to the monetary outcome, but have you ever heard the phrase, “Money doesn’t buy happiness?” According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is estimated that lawyers make an average salary of $130,490 or $62.74 an hour. But is that the price you’re willing to pay for your mental sanity? A study performed at John Hopkins University showed that out of more than 100 occupations, lawyers came in first place with the highest incidence of depression and anxiety. If you research the definition of anxiety and then compare it to the description of what a lawyer does, I guarantee you it would be pretty hard to differentiate the two. Lawyers are paid to “predict” the future for their clients, and anticipate the outcome of the situation at hand, where as the word anxious is generally used to describe someone who is very concerned about something and endures a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. According to further studies, twenty-six percent of all lawyers who seek counseling are diagnosed with depression, and fifteen to twenty percent suffer from alcoholism or substance abuse. Even with this alarming statistic, lawyers are often too busy to or just reluctant to seek mental health therapy.
Although all of this is true, lawyers aren’t alone. Other high-end careers, such as software programmers or medical professionals, also face an overwhelming amount of psychological distress due to their career path and overall level of job satisfaction. Between the stress of never-ending projects, time sensitive decision making, and high-risk outcomes, the pressure of certain careers can be overwhelming and at times hard to handle.
Obviously, high paying careers like lawyers, doctors, and IT executives aren’t the only career fields that suffer from psychological distress or mental fatigue. In fact, all career fields have their own unique way of creeping in and causing harm to your mental state, but there are ways to manage it.
This is a skill that doesn’t come naturally. You must work hard to learn how to suppress your natural ability to sympathize with your environment.
Find outlets that work best for you to relieve any tension or stress you may have. Whatever activity works best for you to relieve any unwanted stress, such as exercise or painting, should be high on your priority list.
Rather than beating yourself up for a mistake that was made, take that mistake and turn it into a learning opportunity.
At some point, there needs to be a line you create that distinguishes personal life and work life. Create an on and “off” button. As soon as you leave the doors of your work environment, that off button needs to be clicked so you can focus on you—you matter just as much as your work.
Just as you would workout and eat healthy to help your physical needs, you should always keep your mental health needs in mind too. It doesn’t mean you’re crazy or incompetent when you ask for help, it just means you care about yourself and you want to live a happy fulfilling life while also maintain the career of your dreams. (Article written and submitted by Ashley Campo, UCF Psychology and Counseling Student)