6 ways to improve your mental wellbeing when making a career change
If you're unhappy in your job, it's easy to feel like you have failed in some way. Here's how you can improve your mental health whilst navigating a career change.
If you aren’t enjoying your job or are struggling to figure out your future career direction, it’s unsurprising that your mental wellbeing might take a hit. Often when we are yearning for something “different” we wonder if there’s something wrong with us or that we’ve failed in some way.
Before we begin. Listen here. There is nothing wrong with you – but there is a lot wrong with the world of work.
In fact, we surveyed the Escape community and discovered that more than 51% of us have experienced negative physical or mental health issues as a direct result of our jobs.
Looking to make a transition? Take note that building a career on your own terms can be hard – but don’t let it be any harder by allowing those feelings of doubt or failure in because you want to do something different. You haven’t failed – transition in a career, big or small, is completely normal, and we’re here to help.
The way we feel about our work, whether totally satisfied or completely unfulfilled, should be something that we pay attention to. If you have a loud-inner critic and suffer from the dreaded Imposter Syndrome (read more about that here), there are ways you can help relieve yourself from anxiety and improve your self-esteem through the process.
Let’s get started and look at key ways you can maintain both your mental and physical wellbeing whilst going through a career transition:
1 - Meditation is a great way to check-in with yourself
How can you possibly navigate a career path when your brain feels like cotton-wool? Know the feeling? A common side-effect of anxiety is a sensation of fogginess in the brain, which can lead to a lack of focus and slow down your ability to make clear decisions.
A well-recognised and effective tool to tackle this, is meditation. Meditation can give a great sense of calm and push you back into a feeling of optimism. If you’re feeling overwhelmed in the workplace, you don’t necessarily need to book a retreat or lock yourself away somewhere for a solid twenty minutes. That can be hard in the modern world. Simply making the time to go for a walk in nature, or finding somewhere relatively quiet and take the time to simply observe your thoughts, can make a huge difference to how you feel.
There are a host of apps that will help guide you into meditation. Some of our favourites are:
If you feel that meditating isn’t necessarily right for you and your lifestyle (that’s okay, it’s not for everyone), try out Mood Cards. Mood Cards are an inspired invention, by Escape Alumni Fede Trimarchi, that encourage you to take time for yourself and embrace new habits.
2 - Make time for exercise
Exercise is a great way to move emotions through you. It shakes off unwanted toxins, can help improve self-esteem and is bound to bring more productivity and focus to your day.
Exercise – no matter how gentle – will enable your body to release endorphins, which will trigger a positive feeling in your body and boost your mood.
If you’re not feeling confident right now to hit the gym or because it’s starting to get cold, simply open up YouTube and do an at-home workout. Some ideas you might want to explore:
- Joe Wicks - A great way to incorporate more exercise into your life.
- Goodgym: do some good on your run, surrounded by likeminded people.
- Secret Sunrise - dance sessions celebrating the start of the day.
- Ucci Pilates - with Escape Alumni Claudia Colucci.
- Yoga with Adriene - free yoga videos for all levels.
Feel Better by Deliciously Ella app - a one stop shop for delicious, easy recipes; guided meditation; and some great workout videos.
3 - Make time for your multipliers
When we’re making career transitions, at one point or another you’ll likely find yourself feeling a bit overwhelmed. If you get into a cycle of amending CVs, writing cover letters, going for interviews and searching for other opportunities, it’s easy to let it consume your life.
This is exactly the time when you most need to focus on doing the things that give you energy. At Escape we call them multipliers, the things that you can do that multiply your energy and give you the boost you need to keep up momentum and to keep healthy during the process of transition.
Not sure what they are? Get out a piece of paper or make a note on your computer or phone, and complete the sentence “I would feel better about my career transition if…” and come up with a list of things that you need to maintain your own wellbeing.
Examples might be:
"I would feel better about my career transition if…"
- I was getting 8 hours of sleep every night
- I was making time to see my friends who inspire & support me
- I was eating properly and making time for cooking at home
- I was allowing myself time to watch Stranger Things on my commute
- I was getting out for a run every Sunday
- I took a walk around the park during my lunch break instead of eating at my desk
They might feel like silly, basic, or self-indulgent things. But these are the things that keep you balanced in mind and spirit, and making space for them will allow you to sustain your transition, rather than burning out and giving up. We’re each unique in what our multipliers might be. Take some time to discover yours. When it comes to career transition, it’s the small things that make all the difference.
Once you have your multiplies written down, think of the smallest ways you can incorporate them into your day or week. Small changes make a big difference in the long run, start small and build from there.
4 - Find out what makes you tick
Feeling unbalanced? Perhaps you’re working in a role that doesn’t feel authentic to you or the values of the organisation do not align with your own.
Joe was a commercial property lawyer, a partner in a medium-sized law firm. He was miserable. He hated going into work and hated doing the work. He had always hated his job but just thought it was normal to want to cry on Monday morning.
Joe had started to look for another job in the same area but was missing interviews and felt like a fraud. Ultimately, he was depressed. Joe joined our Career Change Accelerator and you can read about his brave escape story of leaving commercial property law here. Ultimately, the first real step in his escape was about seeking help for his mental health.
What Joe experienced is not at all uncommon, if you’re feeling the same, know that you are not alone. Working making people unwell, is an unfortunate consequence of our societal acceptance of productivity, being ‘always on’, and progress being placed higher on the priority list than employee wellbeing and happiness. In fact, Gallup cited that a mere 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs.
This doesn’t mean you should settle, of course. There are amazing roles out there with brilliant organisations who care about the people who work there, and the world around them.
If you feel stuck and don’t know where to start, sign-up to our popular Top Ten Opportunities newsletter. You’ll receive it every Monday morning and it spotlights interesting roles with progressive companies that are looking for talented people just like you!
If you want to dig a bit deeper, check out the winners of our Escape 100 campaign. These are 100 organisations who came out on top out of 13,000, as voted on by the employees that work there. This should give you some inspiration as to where to get started and what it’s really like on the inside of organisations before you decide to apply.
5 - Now, find out who makes you tick
They say that you are the average of the five people you spend your time with – choose wisely.
Do you have an idea of the way you would like to live your life? Perhaps you want to quit your “secure” corporate job and start your own business, or maybe you want to completely shift industries. It’s important to find peers that don’t make you feel crazy for doing something different.
In Working Identity, Ibarra talks about the importance of finding new communities of people that you get along with most comfortably and enjoyable, as they can often give you clues on what you should be exploring.
Ways to find your people:
- Shelfhelp book club: safe spaces to meet new people to discuss books on topics which may affect your own lives
- Meetup.com: Browse interest groups you could join
- Escape Routes Meet likeminded people for walks in nature, all over the world
6 - Journaling
Journaling can be a really effective way to identify different patterns or triggers. Rather than using your iPhone, treat yourself to a nice old-school writing book and pen, and start writing down your feelings and moods.
If you have a loud inner-critic, you could also try reviewing your competence on a regular basis to improve your self-belief.
Simple activity: Try writing three things down each day that you have achieved.
Journalling can also help you navigate tricky decisions. A simple pro and con list (ideally on a nice big piece of paper) can help get puzzling thoughts of your head.
To help with decision making:
- Trust your inner wisdom
- Don’t give in to FOMO
- Accept that you can't have it all
Mental health charity, Mind, found that learning can boost self-confidence and self-esteem, help build a sense of purpose, and help us connect with others. Since we can boost our confidence by developing new competencies, focus on any potential up-skilling that you could do to help improve areas of knowledge and boost your confidence for your transition.
- General Assembly: check out their upcoming courses and events.
- LinkedIn: Start a free month trial and test out their online courses
- Skillshare: Online, video-based courses in 1001 different areas. Engaging teachers and exercises to help you explore new skills and areas of interest
- Escape The City: Check out our events and programmes
It is the Escape mission to help 1,000,000 people do work they love. Because 1 million people doing work they love, can change the world. Join the community by signing up to receive tips, tools and stories straight to your inbox.