Drowning in work… Detrimental to our mental health

BY: CLAIRE KIM

Last night, I spent 2+ hours listening to my mother rant about her frustration with her stay-at-home office duties. “I’m tired” she would say, and, to no surprise, a sigh would follow up. It was clear that the 2 decades spent working under money-hungry bosses and being neglected for pursuing her ambitions as a woman were tormenting her. And as a prospective career woman myself, I am afraid of the big business world that will continue to look down on mental health and work balance.

My mother, though sensitive at times, has always taken initiative in her work, putting forth only the best of the best research when demanded from her superiors. It’s no doubt that the workload causes high amounts of stress, but like most jobs in the market, stress is bound to come when working in any environment. Chefs get stressed when their food receives bad reviews… Construction workers get stressed when their buildings are not up to par with their blueprint expectations… Doctors get stressed about coping with death and illness… Everyone who works inevitably gets stressed. But what makes office jobs particularly frustrating is the lack of respect shown to those who work hard. While CEOs get to point their fingers, nagging this or that in their private offices, individuals like my mother, who, to make clear is a senior manager right now, are stuck listening to these insults and ignorant comments from higher-ups in their little plastic cubicles. And while this lack of respect within a “social hierarchy” is a common trend in, again, most workspaces, what sets office jobs apart is the sheer irony that comes with work ethic.

Those who work hard are a threat to others’ office positions, so they need to be kicked out. Those who stay in their line and do minimal tasks are worthy of staying as they don’t cause any trouble or discomfort.

Essentially, being too perfect or too diligent is a problem. Why? Because the office is a warzone in which everyone is fighting to stay in the lineup, even for managers, senior managers, directors, and CEOs.

And ultimately, because of this toxic, cut-throat mindset, depression, anxiety, a feeling of inadequacy starts to develop over time, sometimes to such an unhealthy extent that even coming to work becomes a nightmare.

My mother is a direct piece of evidence. Her sleepless nights, constant headaches, and jittery nature all indicate that she is overwhelmed and overworked, something that I wish companies, big or small, can take into consideration when demanding work. I know that stress is an inevitable consequence in the current system, but at least, as kind human beings, shouldn’t we make sure that the health of our employees is okay before hauling too much on their backs? Isn’t health a first priority, especially mental health?

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