Cosmopolitan tells the story of Maeve, a 28-year-old agency director who experiences daily frustration with her job. She used to face demanding tasks in her dream job, but now she feels relegated to the role of an assistant, handling only menial tasks and constantly feeling overlooked. She has ambitions for much more, but financial insecurity keeps her stuck in this position.

Maeve is not alone in experiencing this reality. Gallup’s global report on work in 2022 is revealing: Just 21% of people feel engaged (down to 14% in Europe – the region with the lowest percentage of engaged workers), while 60% feel emotionally detached and 19% unhappy with their jobs.

The pandemic has exacerbated these feelings, leading to burnout and a change in work behavior. Many are now reluctant to fall headlong into work, resisting a return to the office and pushing for improved working conditions. The concept of “quiet resignation”, i.e. offering the bare essentials and nothing more, is a trend that reflects a reaction against the demanding work culture. And while setting boundaries is a healthy response, for some the psychological impact of frustration with work realities extends beyond the boundaries of the job.

According to a recent survey by Cosmopolitan, the vast majority (91%) say it is important that work gives them a sense of purpose, yet 52% do not feel motivated to succeed in their current role, while 65% report that the job has a negative impact on his mental health. But if we consider that most of us will spend at least 84,365 hours in our lifetime at work, we understand that job satisfaction is important.

A key factor in this evil is “rust,” a term for the boredom that stems from unsatisfying, monotonous work. Unlike burnout, which results from overwork, rust comes from a lack of meaningful engagement. It leaves employees feeling stuck and unappreciated, which of course has wider implications for their mental health and personal lives.

Burnout it has become common enough to be recognized and defined by the actual World Health Organization as an “occupational phenomenon,” with more and more companies developing strategies to prevent it. Rust, however, remains much less known or understood. And as much as quitting seems like a good idea to many, it’s probably impossible in a world of punctuality, leaving many feeling like they’re at the mercy of their employer.

Teena Clouston, author of Challenging Stress, Burnout And Rust-Out and professor of occupational therapy at Cardiff University, says: “Rust is much deeper than boredom. It happens when people don’t feel like they’re doing something meaningful or that they’re not recognized. They often feel stuck, as if there is no prospect of progress, and it can be much harder to deal with than burnout.”.

In a work culture where our value has become so closely tied to production and success, it is not so surprising that rust has been associated with a sense of personal failure. “The mental impact of rust can be quite dark. You can feel depressed, like you’re stuck in the mud and can’t move,” says Clouston, explaining that the after-effect is “withdrawal and disinterest in our day-to-day lives, even outside of work.”.

Despite these challenges, adversity can be a learning experience. Thoroughly evaluating potential jobs and advocating for a balanced life is key. In addition, recognizing the problem, seeking meaningful work tasks, setting career goals, and finding work-life balance can help. It is also vital for organizations to provide meaningful work and recognize the contribution of employees.

However dismal your work reality may seem at the moment, remember that there is no experience from which you have nothing to gain. “Adversity can teach us far more than sustained success ever could—and the changes we make to ourselves in such circumstances often set the stage for future prosperity,” says Dr. Chang. . “We’ve been brainwashed into thinking we have to give it our all at work. However, we have to make sure that we don’t give so much that the rest of our lives are affected.”Clouston concludes.