Is Your Job Killing You?

My father-in-law hated his work. He stayed at it, though. He had little choice because he didn’t have much formal education. Over the years, we saw his work suck the joy out of him. Finally, the day came when he could retire ~ something he had been dreaming about for literally decades, so he could do all those things he’d been putting off for years because of his work. But, unfortunately, that’s not the way his retirement went.

Shortly after he stopped working, my father-in-law became deathly ill, quickly developing not one, not two, but three terminal illnesses. He managed to live a few years, but instead of pursuing his music and woodworking and doing the things he’d dreamed of doing, he spent his retirement just trying to hold on for as long as he could.

I believe that my father-in-law’s workplace misery contributed to his ailing retirement and early death. And I know this happens to millions of people each year.

Workplace stress is linked to all sorts of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and an array of mental health issues. An estimated 120,000 Americans die each year due to workplace stressors[1].

We spend the majority of our lives at work. I firmly believe that if your work life is negative, it will spill into your entire life and over time it can kill you.

If your job is negatively affecting your life, I STRONGLY encourage you to reach out for help in seeking other employment. There are many books out there that can help you with your job search, or you check into help from a local career services office or work with a career coach to help, if you can afford the latter.

In the meantime, you must take self-care seriously, to find some ways to relax and ease the stress of your job. The trick here is to avoid or slow down burnout if you possibly can while you get the career management help you need to makeover your work life.

Make some time in your busy days to relax and to be happy. This will be something different for everyone, but some ideas include:

  • Exercise (this could be as low-impact as taking a walk after dinner, or maybe an early morning group fitness class)
  • Read a book for pleasure
  • Invite a friend out for dinner
  • Take a painting class, or try to pick up a new hobby
  • Enroll in a class to learn something new
  • Book a massage
  • Take a vacation
  • Plant a garden
  • Meditate
  • Start a gratitude list
  • Volunteer helping others

Finding a way to exercise your creativity is critical. Making more time and space in your life for the creative pursuits that feed you is one of the key ways to not just survive, but thrive during workplace chaos, change, and dissatisfaction.

A simple way to do this is to take yourself on an Artist’s Date once a week. Courtesy of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, this concept involves spending two hours on your own doing something you find creatively inspiring, whether it’s a gallery hop, a workshop, a cruise through a craft store, or a trip to your favorite home supply center. You can even just soak in a beautiful sunset or draw a scene you love (without regard for how well you do so).

Whatever you do, I hope that you do not surrender to the idea that you must stay in the job that is making you miserable. Don’t let your work kill you without giving up a fight. And if that means giving a career coach a call, don’t delay. The sooner you begin, the sooner you can change career directions and rediscover the joy of work.


If you need help figuring out what kind of work is best for you or how to strategically redirect your career, my proprietary Inner Archaeology™ process may help. My complimentary career consultation will give you a no-cost opportunity to tell me your story and me a chance to demonstrate how I can help. There is no obligation (except to be true to yourself).


About Cheryl Lynch Simpson

Cheryl is a Career, Job Search & LinkedIn Coach and Master Resume Writer. She has helped clients in >35 industries on 6 continents and has earned 24 global resume writing nominations and awards.