Finding the Right Job for You: Career Choices When Managing Anxiety and Depression

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Robert David Jaffee is a mental health activist who advocates for fulfilling careers for mental illness sufferers due to his own experiences. Unable to find the right working environment to thrive, he moved from position to position: 

“I can recall quitting many jobs over the years. My misadventures in the law and business, fields I no doubt entered to please my parents, stripped away at my self-esteem.”

Jaffee is not alone in his search for a career that affected his mental health in a positive way. Keris Myrick, who leads Project Return speaks to the dangers of toxic careers to The New York Times,

“I wasn’t meant to be in admissions or higher education — it’s suffocating me, my creativity. I need to be in charge of my life.”

Finding a fulfilling career is no easy task. Add in mental illness, such as anxiety or depression and it can feel unmanageable. One of the biggest problems for those suffering from mental illness is maintaining a career. Suffering in the wrong career can cause further damage to one’s mental health — “getting through it” can be dangerous. Finding a career that works positively with mental health is a much safer and sustainable solution. 

For Myrick, that consists of a supportive work environment and understanding colleagues.

“Her overall strategy combines a heavy work schedule, regular reality checks with colleagues, sympathy from her dog and the option to bail out for a few days if needed — in luxury.” 

For Jaffe, he required an industry shift to thrive. He switched from working in business and law to writing. “It was an adrenaline rush for my brain to read through all the articles until the witching hour of the night, and it did wonders for my self-esteem to demonstrate a great degree of skill in the midst of my colleagues,” He told the NYT.

As an anxiety and/or depression sufferer, finding the right career is extremely important to improving mental health. 

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Work with Your Mental Health, Not Against It.

Meaningful employment expands your sense of self-worth by adding to your skills and helping you accomplish your personal goals and feel good about yourself. You can also meet new people and make friends. In the search for meaningful employment, there can be a few barriers such as career gaps, insecurities, accommodation requests, but you can work around these barriers. With the help of friends, mentors, or an employment assistance program, you can strategise how to build an environment that is suitable for you. Your work choices should keep in mind any practical barriers and accommodations you need to feel comfortable and safe. You can do it!

 

Your Work Choices 

Finding the best career for you is not just about industry or job title. A large part of our working lives is spent working. According to HuffPost Australia, the reality is about thirteen years of our lives are spent working. No wonder our careers plays such a role in our mental health! Hence, why finding a sustainable and healthy career is vital to anyone’s mental health, not just those with anxiety and depression. 

Many believe that having a flourishing career is synonymous with a full-time office position, but that is simply not the case. There are many different ways to design your work life. Part-time, flexible hours, freelance, self-employment, volunteer or unpaid positions, there are many different types of working environments. The key is to select what is suitable for your current abilities and resonate with you. 

Carolyn spent twenty years at her former employer. Having reached the upper levels of management, she “had everything”. However, due to long hours and office politics, she started to suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. She found it hard to go to work at all, or stay there once she did, and eventually, she couldn’t even drive herself to the grocery store. Now Carolyn sets here own hours in a flexible working environment and her mental health has drastically improved. “For the first time in almost 15 years, I have found a freedom and honest pride in my work and workplace.” as told to Huffington Post.

There are many different options when it comes to selecting the right career for you. Building a meaningful career is not a one-size-fits-all scenario.

 

Best Career Choices for Anxiety and Depression

Working within personal boundaries is an extremely important part of managing mental health. Instead of working against anxiety and depression, there are many careers that are well-suited for anxiety and depression sufferers.

Here are some examples:

 

Building a Career with Anxiety

Jobs with clear and measurable achievement targets and a structured and predictable routine provide a stable and secure environment for anxiety sufferers. Process work, such as sorting, baking, data entry, or library assistant provide a structured environment with measurable targets. 

For those with social anxiety, jobs that require little social interaction and quiet, uncrowded working environments would be best. Cleaning, animal care, software development, are fields that would provide an environment with minimal social interaction. If the working environment is crowded, another solution would be having the flexibility to work on off-peak and less-crowded hours. Although ideally, the job would be low to medium stress — it needs to be engaging. Since anxiety causes intrusive thought patterns, an engaging work environment could do wonders to clear this thought pattern.

 

Building a Career with Depression

Careers that inspire physical activity and social interaction are well-suited for those with depression. Depression can cause motivation issues and a lack of enjoyment from activities. The key components of a beneficial job would include motivation to get physically active, time spent outdoors or in nature, and to reduce isolation. Jobs that encourage time outdoors such as gardening, landscaping, or floristry wouldn’t require much social interaction, but fresh air, nature, and sunshine can be extremely beneficial for managing depression. Clear achievements and goals can also help improve the work environment. Careers such as cleaning, housekeeping, dog walking or grooming are built around tasks with clear goals and outcomes. Some may benefit from service-oriented positions such as age-care — helping others can be a great mood booster. Others may find careers with built-in creative outlets such as graphic design,  can facilitate the best working environment.  

Find a Career

Everyone is unique — there are many different career and employment paths. Finding a meaningful career that is beneficial for your mental health is within your grasp. The key is to find the right support, resources, and environment that allow you to thrive, just as you are.

Are you having difficulty finding meaningful work that is right for you? If you are having difficulty managing and keeping a job, we can help. If you have a disability, injury, or health condition we may be able to help you find and keep a job. Join thousands of job seekers who have been given a new start, new skills and a new job through DSA. We find employment that fits you, not the other way around. Call us today at 1300 372 121 or make an enquiry here. 

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