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Miserable at Work? Here Are 5 Ways to Deal

Topics: Career Advice
unhappy at work
Alan Cleaver/Flickr

Maybe you’ve been at your terrible job for two weeks, or maybe two years, but either way, work is the worst part of your day. When you’re faced with a job that not only doesn’t make you happy, but actively makes you miserable, it can be hard to see any way out of it. But, don’t give up hope. There are things you can do right now to make yourself feel so much better, and they don’t start (or end) with quitting.

1. Start With Some Self-Care

You need to take care of you, right now! At work, you should look after your mental and physical health. You’re sorting out your situation, but yes, you might be in that bad spot for a while, so you’re going to need some ways to cope better.

Meditation can do wonders when you’re stuck in a stressful environment. There are lots of apps or online resources, like, that offer free natural sounds or guided meditation that can cut through the mind-clutter of the day. They’re great for clearing out the anger, and resetting in the middle of a commute, a mental desk rant or even a moment before a big meeting that might be driving your stress levels through the roof.

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2. Reframe, Reframe, Reframe

Something drew you to that job in the first place, right? You thought that you could get something out of it, even if it was just the paycheck.

Try to take a BIG step backward and look at your position. Are you unhappy because the job wasn’t what was promised? Can you take your concerns to someone who can help you make the job better fit your skills, your career ambitions and your potential trajectory? For example, if you were hired at an assistant level, and have now exceeded those skills, but have not been offered an opportunity to advance, can you find better career fulfillment in a different group or department?

Or if you’re just bored, maybe take a look at what might be driving that boredom.

“If you feel that there is a ton of work but it’s not sufficiently challenging, or there’s no room for growth in your current position, you’re bored,” says Joni Holderman, founder of Thrive! Resumes, at Fast Company.

3. Make (Small) Plans for Your Future

Don’t think about the huge problem of potentially wanting a new job or career for yourself. Instead, try spending a few minutes a day working on your master plan.

Jeremy Anderberg over at the Art of Manliness advises spending 15 minutes a day jotting down ideas about your future: “Doing this will help you see that your current situation is temporary.” Perspective can be everything when you’re not happy at work.

4. Don’t Check Out Early

It can be tempting to mentally check out of your current job when times are tough, but that can spell disaster. You don’t want to get fired for cause, because you stopped doing your job well.

Ideally, you should focus on being good at your job, and in your off hours work on getting out of there. (For heaven’s sake, don’t job search during your 9 to 5.)

If you’ve got trouble within your group, like a toxic boss or a snippy coworker, and you’re not dealing with something that would require HR’s intervention, try killing ’em with kindness. Your smokescreen, while you’re working on getting out, is being awesome.

5. Thank About Change … Outside Work

Sometimes jobs are bad, but we can’t leave. What you do outside of that bad job is up to you, however. You take on long-term projects like going back to school or working on advancing your skills, but that can take a lot of time.

Volunteering your time and talents, even for something unrelated to your job, can be amazing for your mental health as well as your resume. Think about getting involved with a cause you feel passionately about, whether it’s a youth organization, a political group, a religious outlet or anything that makes your heart and mind happy. There’s no wrong answer there, as long as it brings you joy.

Tell Us What You Think

How have you dealt with a miserable job? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

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