The 15th January has the dubious honour of being known as "Blue Monday" - the third Monday after Christmas is purportedly the date that even fewer of us get out of bed on the right side - often because we are feeling low after the passing of the festive period, the grey and uninspiring weather and that any credit card bills which have been run up in our efforts to treat our friends and family have now become due.
On top of that - many of us wake up on Mondays with dread knowing that we have to be at a place that we loathe in a few hours time. Sometimes stiffening at our desk when the boss comes into the office. In extreme cases we can have a feeling of anxiety that builds from Sunday afternoon knowing that we will have to face another week in an place that doesn't make us feel valued or utilise our potential.
If that description resonates with you, then you're not alone.
Work related anxiety and depression are an epidemic of our time. In fact - its been reported this week that working more than 39 hours per week could be detrimental to our health leaving employees burned out, struggling to find the energy or resources to engage with their friends and family. To be too tired to spend time with children or attend significant events like weddings and birthday parties.
Couple that with some corporations being reported for having a toxic presenteeism culture - in 2017 Moritz Erhardt was found dead in the shower of his east London home after working 72 hours non-stop for a large banking corporation (the inquest found that he had died of an epileptic fit however the intensity of his work patterns and fatigue were not ruled out as a cause of death by the coroner). And who among us has not felt the pressure to stay at their post later into the evening than the colleague sat next to them - not for love of the job, but to ensure that they are seen to be "serious" about their career.
Even more upsetting - this unhappiness has the propensity to leak into our personal lives. We spend more time at our place of work than anywhere else, and so it makes sense that I would meet many clients who arrive at my office incredibly stressed by their work - who are sometimes unable to manage the boundaries of those feelings and they find themselves taking out their resentment and stress on their loved ones.
A person's inclination and ability to manage personal and professional boundaries is one of the first things that I look for when initially meeting a client. Another of the areas which I specialise in in addition to more obvious addictive behaviours is codependency - and one of the main issues arising from codependency is an inability to instill boundaries and separate the self from others. If our self esteem is wrapped up in other people's view of us, our ability to perform well at work, get promoted and be perceived to be a "good" employee, then this can also leave us feeling trapped. If our family expect us to earn, provide and be reliable - then swaying from the routine of the 9-5 (and the rest) could be a danger to maintaining the status quo.
It can be helpful to talk about this in therapy - about the vulnerabilities that our workplace and work-life bring to the surface for us. And to look into why that might be the case. Is there a manager within the hierarchy of our workplace who reminds us of an abusive family member or estranged friend? Is there an atmosphere of belittling, sexism or racism? Is our self esteem damaged by impossible expectations? Can we be even a shade of our true selves when we slip into our work uniform?
If you are interested in talking further around any of these issues please feel free to get in touch with me via my contact form at www.harleycounselling.com - or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free 10 minute telephone consultation.
Laura is an online talking therapist and writer specialising in working with millennials and the LGBTQI+ community.