#WorldMentalHealthDay 2 : How working in customer service ruined my mental health and how I fixed it

Customer Service is more than just the nice thing to do. It can carry substantial financial rewards or penalties depending upon the overall level. When I had my breakdown in 2005, it was

Tuesday morning, the morning before starting a new week at work. To a company I disliked in Oregun Lagos, and to a project I was terrified of (I’d lost

the ability to function, to even send an email, so I simply waited to be found out every day – I was both terrified of and impatient for it). It had happened – the sheer panic – the week before too, but I managed to squash it down into a tiny ball of anxiety and fear and, eventually, fall asleep.

So what can you do to change it? Can you try and save your mental health before it all gets too much? I really believe you can.

Change industry if you can

I feel like anyone should have the right to do any job they’re qualified to do, regardless of their mental health. Unfortunately working in retail is a high-pressure, past-paced environment that requires employees to maintain good composure in stressful situations. Not everyone is qualified to do this to a standard that companies expect. Sorry, but that’s the truth.On top of that, many companies are ill-equipped to deal with staff who have a mental illness which affects their ability to work. This might leave you with little support when you need it most. If you’re a waitress and multi-tasking stresses you out, then maybe doing a more focused job – like checkout work – sounds more appealing to you. Maybe it’s your level of responsibility that’s making you uneasy.

Move around

Don’t underestimate the power of simply trying somewhere new. My current role has a few plus points that make it particularly good. It’s mostly takeaway food which I find easier as I only have to concentrate on one order at a time, as opposed to the panic-inducing practice of waiting 5 tables at once, taking orders, making drinks and running everything over with a smile.

I’ve found that larger organisations often have better systems in place for dealing with employees who have mental illnesses that need accommodating. With that said, some of the most sympathetic bosses I’ve had are people who own their own businesses. Sometimes having that face-to-face connection and a closer relationship with your employer will be the extra thing that helps your open up about your situation and get the assistance you need to work happily.

The point I’m trying to make is that it’s quite possible for you to continue working in customer service if you’re given the proper environment to do it in. That means the right amount of hours, enough staff to make the job enjoyable and an honest discussion with your employer about what you’re comfortable doing. .

Find an outlet

This might sound a bit vague, but I can only explain it in the way that it’s helped me in my daily life. I have this blog and I work on it everyday.

I spend every spare moment I have working on building this concept that I have and it gives me a reason to get up in the morning. It even makes me get up earlier than I need to just to get stuff done. I even look forward to going to work with the public now as a welcome break from staring at a computer screen. It helps me get that human contact that is so often lacking from a job which is desk-based.

Make an action plan

Flipping burgers or stacking shelves might be your day job, but it doesn’t define you. If you enjoy doing that everyday then congratulations, you’ve cracked it.

You don’t NEED to quit your job in retail to improve your mental health, but it is worth considering; could it make your life a hell of a lot easier?

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