I have a fever and the only solution is ...
June 11, 2009 11:29 AM   Subscribe

How to recharge after a horrible work situation?

Let's assume this job had a little of everything: office politics, inept coworkers and supervisors, pointless bureaucracy regarding time off and sick days, constant unpaid overtime for jobs that could have been completed on time had they been arranged differently, knowledge beforehand from the managers that a project would require constant OT to be completed, pointless soul sucking work, etc.

Obviously changing a career is a bit much, but the 2 weeks off didn't really help at all. Any advice?
posted by shownomercy to Work & Money (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
office politics, inept coworkers and supervisors, pointless bureaucracy regarding time off and sick days, constant unpaid overtime for jobs that could have been completed on time had they been arranged differently, knowledge beforehand from the managers that a project would require constant OT to be completed, pointless soul sucking work, etc.

Is this an isolated incident, or are you describing your workplace in general? If the latter, then no, I don't think changing a career is a bit much at all.
posted by Ladybug Parade at 11:38 AM on June 11, 2009

Change in company you work for? I'm guessing you still work for them. If it's draining you that much and complaining to higher powers hasn't helped, then looking for another job within the same career is probably the best option.
posted by katillathehun at 11:39 AM on June 11, 2009

I'm not an expert, but there are little things that can make your day better.

I find that getting away -- actually physically away -- from the crap helps, even if its only for a little bit. Try getting out of the office during your lunch break. Pack a lunch and go sit outside on a park bench. If you're near some nature, even better. Close your eyes and let the sun warm your face, enjoy the lack of fluorescent lighting. Take really deep breaths of the non-conditioned air. Stretch your legs and your back. Try to think about things that make you happy, or enjoy the life going on around you, birds, bees, butterflies.

It doesn't improve the situation itself, but it improves your mindset and will help you weather the situation.

Good luck!
posted by SuperErin at 11:39 AM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is really more "How to recharge during a horrible work situation" isn't it?

When I was in such a situation a few years ago, I watched lots of Battlestar Galactica and Oz. Watching TV about people whose lives were so much worse than mine helped a little bit. Nothing good ever happened on those shows, or if it did, senseless horror soon replaced it.

Eventually, though, I quit, which turned out to be much better for my mental health than merely inuring myself to the terrible nature of the job.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:40 AM on June 11, 2009

Response by poster: Uh no, I quit that job.

Looking for advice on how to recharge, now that I have found something much better, but still feeling the residual burnout!
posted by shownomercy at 11:43 AM on June 11, 2009

seriously start cultivating a hobby that is totally unrelated to your work. Have something else to occupy your mind when you aren't at work. Believe me, some days I hate my job, but I'm so glad to have a hobby in jewelry making (and selling it on weekends), makes life so much more bearable to have something else that matters besides work.

Suggestions: some kind of physical pastime, like gardening, antique cars/bikes, carpentry, model building, etc. etc. is particularly nice because these require a lot of focus and there's measurable, concrete progress and rewards. Photography and playing music are also quite nice.
posted by lizbunny at 11:45 AM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

shownomercy, very glad to hear that. If taking time off didn't completely purge it from your system, you could try plunging into a brand new, stimulating project (at your new job or outside of it) that completely absorbs you and makes you feel accomplished. In other words, revel in your abilities to manage time and resources.
posted by Ladybug Parade at 11:49 AM on June 11, 2009

Good for you! What I found really helped after I quit my horrible soul sucking job was to have someone to talk to about it. The job was over, but its effect on my life wasn't, and I needed to be able to work through that. For myself, I talked with several different friends, but talking with a trained counselor or therapist could help, too.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:52 AM on June 11, 2009

I like to drink.
posted by poppo at 12:08 PM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]

Lift weights. I get a sense of power and control from that which I don't find with other workouts.

But do other ones also.
posted by jgirl at 12:13 PM on June 11, 2009

Did you do anything during those two weeks, or just slump at home watching TV? The best things I've done to recharge have been to unplug completely and go someplace outside away from everything. Interior park or sea-side camping, by backpack or canoe or sea kayak. A few days minimum. Guided trips take some of the hassle out of gear and food, and you get to spend some time with new people just chatting about anything but work. You come out of it exhausted in body, but refreshed in mind, with a bonus of a memorable experience and putting some of the petty things back into perspective.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 1:02 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

Other than the usual things - really whatever makes you happy - I dodn't have much to suggest.

I just want to say that it is really normal (if not totally annoying) for stress to keep hold of you for a while. Sometimes months. A good friend of mine quit because he kept thinking "he was going to die at work" because it sucked so bad - he was reassured that after being in a crappy situation your body can't quite believe it's over just yet. Don't worry - it should keep up. In the meantime, just be glad it's over.
posted by Gor-ella at 1:22 PM on June 11, 2009

Going on walks does wonders for me when I feel burnt out. Here's a book that goes into the details of why/how walking helps people recover from mental trauma.
posted by symbollocks at 1:43 PM on June 11, 2009

Very expensive red wine and high-end restaurant visits.
posted by jeffamaphone at 1:51 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Make effigies of people /things from your old job and spend a day shooting paintballs at them, punching them on punching bags, eating them, cleansing your rear with them, burrying them in the yard, running them over with your car, burning them, spreading peanut butter on them and watching birds peck at them in the yard...get creative.
posted by WeekendJen at 2:24 PM on June 11, 2009

If you're single - Date. It will help keep your mind off things and possibly give you something to look forward to.
posted by sporaticgenius at 3:46 PM on June 11, 2009

Firstly, congratulations! Getting out of a toxic work environment is the best thing you could have done. I've been there. It's tough. What you need is a new mindset.

Start as you mean to go on. You're in a new job, you can create a new image of the "work you". You can be the person who works hard and gets things done but doesn't take work home. You can be the person who is up for a beer on a Friday night, but who doesn't get involved in petty office politics. You can be the person that takes a lunch break and gets out of the office, even just for a 30 minute walk. You can be the person who works overtime but then takes time in lieu / leaves early a couple of nights the following week.

You have a unique opportunity, in a new job, to set people's expectations of you, and what you're willing to put up with. Take that opportunity - make their perception of "work you" what you want it to be. That's not to say that you should be inflexible or refuse to help out when required. But this is your chance to define how you want your work to be like.

You might be surprised at how accepting your new organisation will be. I'm guessing they didn't sell the role on it being all about inefficient red tape, politics and unlimited unpaid overtime. So you're free to assume that any of that is something that you can deign to accept as and when required, but it's not a given that you'll buy into it.

Outside work, for me, it was all about spending time with friends who reminded me that I was more than "work me". Making plans to meet up with friends for dinner / a movie / drinks on work nights meant that I couldn't stay late, even if I wanted to. And spending time with friends helped me regain my sense of self, and of what was actually important.

Work to live, don't live to work. Good luck.
posted by finding.perdita at 4:35 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Happy music, pref something I can 'sing' along with when no one else is home. And nthing lifting weights, just not at the same time. Whatever you can to get rid of excess nervous tension, that's different from what you normally do, something active.
posted by x46 at 8:29 PM on June 11, 2009

been there! I developed a sort of.. theoretical interest in toxic work environments, actually, and kind of enjoy comparing how things run (by no means perfectly) at my current job versus the absolute insanity of my old one. I found it pretty interesting to look at how things get done, now, and what just works that is taken for granted at my current job, versus the absurd overcomplication and dysfunction at my old one. So if you like geeking out about things.. give it a shot?
posted by citron at 7:33 AM on June 13, 2009

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