Episode 42

What to Do When You Feel Blue at Work

Published on: 16th May, 2022

Faithful on the Clock is a podcast with the mission of getting your work and faith aligned. We want you to understand Who you're serving and why so you can get more joy and legacy from every minute spent on the clock. Thanks for joining us and taking this step toward a more fulfilling job and relationship with God!

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In this episode...

What to Do When You Feel Blue at Work

In Episode 42 of the Faithful on the Clock podcast, you’ll get a powerful reminder that Jesus understands what it’s like to be sad on the job. You’ll get a list of options that can beat back the blahs no matter what your role or industry might happen to be.

Timestamps:

[00:05] - Intro

[00:40] - Because depression and anxiety are such personal and economic burdens, we have an obligation to discuss and address mental health concerns.

[01:38] - I want you to know I understand what it’s like to not be happy at work and to reassure you that you deserve to be happy on the job.

[02:28] - Jesus knows what it’s like to not be happy and to have a tough, stressful job.

[03:17] - Common advice such as getting good sleep and praying are critical to good mental health. Start with those things and remember you serve God, not a company.

[04:52] - Make sure your issue really is related to work, rather than based on something from outside that you’re bringing into the office.

[05:47] - Work blahs can separate into people and stuff blahs. The people blahs often can be addressed with good boundaries and being forthcoming about how others are influencing you.

[06:47] - Logistical blahs are things like the nature of the tasks you have or red tape. They can involve a larger organizational structure.

[07:11] - Take your breaks to give your mind a chance to completely disconnect from the job. This includes clear logging out at the end of the day and taking vacations allowed.

[07:58] - A got-it-done list can help you see how much you really are accomplishing throughout the day.

[08:59] - Asking for more flexibility or job crafting can improve how you feel on the job by making the work into something more enjoyable.

[10:13] - Have open discussions with your boss about what you need, both to get help for yourself and to normalize mental health support for others. Make sure you know what your company offers.

[11:30] - Find a way out of your job if you are experiencing severe cultural issues that are truly damaging. Don’t let your God-given gifts stay unused or hidden.

[12:55] - Prayer

[13:50] - Outro/What’s coming up next


Key takeaways:

  • Depression and anxiety are incredibly common. You are not alone. But dealing with these issues is important on both individual and social levels.
  • There’s more acknowledgment of mental health issues now than in the past, especially given the pandemic. I personally understand what it is like to struggle, and Jesus has been in the same position, too.
  • There’s no magic fix for work-related depression and anxiety, but giving your cares to God is a good start. It also helps to remember that work is a gift from God.
  • Clarify whether your blahs actually come from work before you do anything else. We often can bring issues from outside into our jobs. 
  • Blahs from people might take strategies like bringing in HR and drawing good boundaries with others on your team.
  • Blahs from more logistical stuff can be harder to fix. They can include strategies such as taking breaks, job crafting, and asking for more flexibility.
  • Open discussions about how your doing might be necessary so you can get good support and flexibility from your boss. They can only help with what they know about. Your willingness to admit you need some assistance can normalize mental health discussions for others.
  • A got-it-done list can remind you of everything you really are getting done and are competent about.
  • If you truly have a toxic culture you can’t budge, don’t stay. Go somewhere where you can shine. 



CTAs:

  • Employ one or more of the strategies outlined in the show to protect your mental health. 
  • Share this episode of the show with others who might be struggling because of on-the-job stress or career uncertainty.


What’s coming up next:

Episode 43 of the Faithful on the Clock podcast tackles the trend of executive worship. It reveals why holding up certain leaders as celebrity models isn’t helpful and provides a practical alternative for finding personal inspiration.


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Transcript
[:

Hello, again, listeners, it’s me, your host, Wanda Thibodeaux, and you’ve tuned in to another episode of the Faithful on the Clock podcast, where I’m gonna try my very best to get your work and faith just a little bit more aligned. Today’s show, I have a feeling is gonna help a lot of you out there, because we’re talking about what to do when you feel blue at work. Settle into your chair or couch or find whatever comfy spot works for you, and here we go.

[:

All right, listeners. So the first thing I want to say right out of the gate is, I completely understand that some of you listening out there might not be entirely comfortable talking about things like depression and anxiety because the stigma on mental health is still there. But we know that 17.3 million adults say they’ve experienced a major depressive episode in the last year just in the United States alone, and that, globally, depression and anxiety have an economic cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 trillion a year. It’s actually a leading disability because of the way it influences you physically and in how you think. So you’re definitely not alone, and it’s super important that we deal with these issues, not just for our individual well-being, but for the wellbeing of everybody, you know, the broader economy.

[:

And all that being said, I want to reassure you, especially now with the pandemic and all that, there’s a lot more acknowledgment of these kinds of issues, not just in business, but in general. And I just want to be very clear that you deserve to be happy in your job, OK? And I know from personal experience that when you don’t have that, it really does kind of erode your quality of life. I mean, I’ll be honest, I–when I’ve been my unhappiest with work, I mean, I’ve thrown things. I’ve had to just, you know, go take a minute in my car. So I just want to take a minute and start this episode just kind of let you take a deep breath about that, to really just let you know that I see you, that I do know what this is like, and to just encourage you that things can be better than they might be right now.

[:

And absolutely Jesus knows what it is like to be sad, too. Everything He did in His work, I mean, He brought hope to so many people, right? But He had people on His case all the time, constantly giving Him a hard time, too. And Hebrews 4:15 emphasizes that “We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” You wanna go even simpler, I’ll throw out John 11:35. That’s clear, too. It just says “Jesus wept.” So when you’re not feeling happy, just know He knows what tough work is, and that He’s gonna stay with you through your tough work, too.

[:

But how do you go about feeling better when those blahs hit? Now, unfortunately, there’s no magic pill about this that’s going to work for everybody. We’ve all got different backgrounds and physiologies and work situations. So the best I can do here is just paint some really broad strokes of what might help. And you guys probably have people all the time telling you, do self-care, get sleep, exercise, eat right, see if there’s not some underlying health issue. And of course, prayer, bringing your struggles to God, that’s essential. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on God because He cares for you.” Sometimes we just need to vent and get it out to get through it. That’s what He’s there for! I’ll remind you really quickly, too, of Ecclesiastes 2:24, which says, “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God.” And that verse, it reminds us that our labor, our work, it’s a merciful gift. God gives it to us to be happy in, to help us have a sense of influence and pride as we wait to be reunited with Him. At least, that is my view. If you remember that you are in service to God, not just in service to your company, it really can change your perspective, and you might find a lot of that weight off your shoulders.

[:

But if you’re going through all this advice and you’re just still stuck in this feeling of being down, I just wanna ask you, is work even the issue? I know that might sound like a funny question, but the fact of it is, especially now with the way home and work boundaries are getting totally obliterated, we do not just leave issues at the door. You’re having trouble with the kids, maybe you’re worried about your mortgage, those things, they come with you. And sometimes what happens is, all that stuff piles up, and then we get to work, we go to do our job, and it’s like the straw that broke the camel’s back. We just can’t take it anymore and we shift all the blame onto the last thing we remember or that happened to us. So just clear that up first, because it might help for you to talk to your friends or family or whoever about what’s going on there.

[:

Now, if the issue isn’t from anything at home or outside of the office, I really kind of separate this into blahs from the people and blahs from the stuff. And what I mean by that is, you know, blahs from the people, that’s Sally You-Know-Who who keeps harassing you every five minutes. It’s that person who rubs it in when you get passed over or the boss who doesn’t respect the requests you’re putting in. And even though I know it’s hard, I think it’s good to practice setting good boundaries, you know, and just being upfront in a kind way about how you feel when they treat you bad. And you might, maybe you even need to go to HR and have somebody mediate, maybe you ask to get reassigned to a different supervisor, that kind of thing. But don’t just sit back and let mistreatment continue, because you’re worth more than that, OK?

[:

Now, blahs from the stuff, that’s more where you’re down just because of more logistical stuff. Maybe people treat you really well, but the tasks are just, you know, they’re about as challenging as mud. Or maybe you’re just running into a lot of red tape somewhere and that’s stressing you out. And this is where a lot of the time we get into problems with organizational structure, too, because things like silos or not knowing who to go to for a specific issue, that can create issues like isolation and feeling unsupported.

[:

For these kinds of issues, and I’m just gonna assume that you can’t walk in the door and have a different structure to your organization tomorrow, OK? I’m gonna assume you have to have a way to cope in a more here-and-now kind of way. One of the best things you can do is just take your breaks. And by break, I don’t mean sit at your desk and scroll social media, OK? I mean get up, get outside, get moving, anything you can do to completely disengage your thoughts from work. You can meditate, you can do yoga, it’s all good as long as it has zero to do with your job. Really log out and the end of the day and make sure you take the vacation time you’ve got, too. That’s important.

[:

Now, this next little trick, I don’t even remember where I picked it up, but I love it. And it’s basically where, instead of a to-do list, you make a got-it-done list. And this list, you just put the stuff you achieved on it through the day, and then at the end of the day, you just review it to kind of say, “Hey, wow, look at all the stuff that went well.” And I know for me, you know, I can look at my to-do list and think, “Well, potatoes and fudge, I didn’t even get halfway through it.” But that got-it-done list, it forces you to see how much you really are doing. Little things like filing a folder, answering an email, it all counts, OK? And when you add it all up, I think you’ll see that you are not idle or wasting your time, you are not incompetent. You are doing a lot amazingly well. So take a moment and acknowledge that and lift yourself up a little bit with it.

[:

From there, see what you can do about the roles you’ve got. Maybe ask for a little more flexibility in your hours, maybe ask if you can get on board with specific projects that are interesting to you. And I know there might not be things you can drop here. But you might have heard of this thing called job crafting. And that’s basically the idea that you take your own goals, your own interests, and you try to find creative ways to integrate those into your position. So you’re actually, you’re not saying “This is the way the job is.” You’re saying, “This is the way the job can be.” And it’s a great way to take some control and exercise a little autonomy, and that’s important, because I don’t think anything drags you down worse than feeling like you don’t have power or choice over anything. So see if you can talk to your boss or somebody about doing that. And the trick to this is, you just really have to make a case for how shifting your position the way you want is going to benefit the business. Because otherwise, your supervisor, they’ll probably be perfectly happy to have you keep doing the same old thing you’ve been doing.

[:

The next step I think is to just start having those open discussions with your boss or your coworkers about how you’re doing. And I’m not saying you have to give them your life story. You don’t have to share more than you’re comfortable with. But remember, please, people can’t help if they don’t know. And the more we talk about this, the more we normalize it and get to a point where we can have the really big discussions that relate to taking care of each other and how business can be part of that. So let the fact you can make a difference for someone else motivate you, too. Go see what kind of support programs or options your company has. I mean, companies, they try, but sometimes the communication just isn’t the best and employees don’t even know what benefits they could take advantage of. And just try to collaborate with your boss or team and say, you know, “How can we adjust so I can meet my obligations and still take care of myself?” I think with more work-from-home going on, companies are becoming more results-oriented anyway, so just try and frame it in terms of what will help you deliver the way you promised.

[:

The last thing I want to say is, there are a lot of really big things that can go on at work that are really damaging. You know, things like discrimination that’s blatant through the whole business or things like that. And I wanna encourage you to speak up where you can against those things. Take a stand for yourself and others. But Matthew 11:15 says, “He who has ears, let him hear.” And the idea is that, while we should respond to good teaching, quite frankly, not everybody will. So sometimes, and I will acknowledge this, you just hit a wall. Maybe you’ve honestly got a horrible HR team. Maybe you’ve got a whole department who just acts like you’re trash. If you cannot budge those issues, the culture is just rotten, then please. Do yourself a favor and find a way out. You have talent, you have worth, and all of those positive things should not be squandered. Remember, God gave you gifts to do good in this world, and He does not want you stuck in a place where your light is under a basket by no fault of your own. You get out if you have to. You go shine your light, because we need that.

[:

So to close out, I’ll just ask you to join me in prayer.

Lord, you are a God of peace and mercy and power, but you are also a God of absolute joy. You did not make us in your image to live life feeling awful. You made us so we could be your friends. And if anyone knows how hard it is to stay upbeat in a tough job, you do. So when we sit at our desks, when we stare at those screens, just wave your hand inside our hearts. Let us know you’re still there, that you get it, and just remind us that, as long as we have You, we’re never stuck. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.

[:

OK, everyone. If I had a timer, it’d be beeping at me, saying “You’re done! You’re done!” The topic for next week is going to be executive worship. We’ll get into why looking at celebrity CEOs like Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos actually does us all a disservice, and where we can focus our attention for better inspiration. Go sign up for our email list at faithfulontheclock.captivate.fm to get all our episodes and updates right in your inbox. Thank you so much for giving me your time, which I know is so precious, and until next time, be blessed.

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About the Podcast

Faithful on the Clock
Faithful on the Clock is a podcast dedicated to ensuring your faith and work align. You won’t find mantras or hacks here--just scripture-based insights to help you grow yourself, your company, and your relationship with God. If you want out of the worldly hamster wheel and want to work with purpose, then this is the show for you. Hosted by freelance business writer Wanda Thibodeaux.
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Wanda Thibodeaux

Wanda Marie Thibodeaux is a freelance writer based in Eagan, MN. Since 2006, she has worked with a full range of clients to create website landing pages, product descriptions, articles, professional letters, and other content. She also served as a daily columnist at Inc.com for three years, where she specialized in content on business leadership, psychology, neuroscience, and behavior.

Currently, Thibodeaux accepts clients through her website, Takingdictation.com. She is especially interested in motivational psychology, self-development, and mental health.