4 Ways Neuroticism Affects You at Work & How to Cope With It

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Do you find yourself constantly moody and irritable at work? Do you become emotional at the slightest obstacle or stressor? Are you struggling to stay motivated, calm, and focused?

If so, then you may be neurotic.

I know what you’re thinking, and no, this doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you. Neuroticism is an essential aspect of personality psychology, yet few people understand what it actually is. Neuroticism is not a disorder, but it can significantly affect your mental health and happiness at work.

This article will introduce you to the concept of neuroticism and list common ways it affects employees at work. If you believe you have a neurotic personality, you will also learn some coping mechanisms to improve your neurotic behavior.

What Is Neuroticism?

The colloquial use of the word “neurotic” implies that there is something wrong with those who live with neuroticism. However, this definition is outdated.

In fact, neuroticism is a personality trait. Psychology Today defines neuroticism as “a tendency toward anxiety, depression, self-doubt, and other negative feelings.” It is a spectrum that shows just how physically and mentally capable someone is at handling stressful situations.

Therefore, those who are highly neurotic are often described as having low emotional stability. They have more difficulty overcoming stressful situations and obstacles, and their emotions tend to swing wildly.

Neurotic people are not insane or out of touch with reality. Instead, they simply have a harder time dealing with stress and tend to obsess over their negative emotions and thoughts.

As you can see, being neurotic doesn’t mean that someone is crazy. It just means that they are more likely to live with a mental illness like anxiety or depression.

Signs of Neuroticism

After reading the last section, you might be wondering if you are a neurotic person. After all, many people can identify with constant worry and stress these days, especially in the workplace.

However, it’s important to note that being emotional is not itself a sign of neuroticism. If you’re irritated or stressed at work but more emotionally stable in other environments, then you may not be neurotic. In that case, you may just be working in a bad work environment.

Remember, highly neurotic people have very few buffers to stressful situations and obsess over their emotions and thoughts. This happens whether they are at work or home.

They also tend to overreact to situations, becoming highly emotional in cases where it is not necessary or even appropriate.

According to WebMD, people who are highly neurotic live in constant states of:

  • Irritation
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Guilt
  • Worry
  • Hostility
  • Self-consciousness
  • Vulnerability

Furthermore, those who are considered highly neurotic are often diagnosed with mental illnesses. Therefore the symptoms of those illnesses will also be a sign of neuroticism. Common mental illnesses that neurotic people are often diagnosed with include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Panic Disorder
  • PTSD
  • Phobias
  • OCD

4 Way Neuroticism Affects You At Work

If you live with one of these mental health conditions or some of the emotions listed above, then you might be neurotic.

Don’t worry, though, as this doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you.

However, it can present some challenges in the workplace. Read on to learn how your neuroticism might negatively affect you at work.

1. Burnout Easily

If you’re constantly irritable, depressed, worrying, or ruminating, then you’re not going to have much energy for work.

Obsessing over negative thoughts and emotions takes a lot of energy. That means you will have less energy to complete your required tasks.

And since pessimism is common in neurotic people, that means you’re less likely to remain motivated at work once your energy starts to drain.

Burnout is a very common occurrence for those who are highly neurotic. A study conducted by the Institute of Work and Organizational Psychology at the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland found that neuroticism was the greatest variance in burnout in participants.

Though being overworked or working in a toxic environment are also significant contributors to burnout, neuroticism is now seen as a significant factor as well. Even at companies that support ample breaks and balanced schedules or workloads, neurotic employees are still often the ones to burn out quickly.

2. Difficulty Focusing

Difficulty focusing on the present moment or your current task is a huge disadvantage of neuroticism.

Neurotic people are constantly worrying and ruminating, keeping themself from living in the present moment. This means they struggle to focus on their tasks and may not complete them in time.

Furthermore, they may jump from task to task instead of prioritizing the most important assignments.

Neurotic people also have a much harder time filtering out distractions, making focusing difficult. Office chatter, ringing phones, and other common office noises and distractions can all prevent a neurotic person from completing their work.

3. Make Less Money

Though neurotic people are known to be very hardworking, their shyness, stress levels, and battles with mental illness could prevent them from making more money or moving up the career ladder.

A study published in The Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization found that those with neurotic personalities tend to make less money than those who don’t.

Even though many companies view neurotic employees as assets due to their work ethic and empathy, it still seems that confident, extroverted employees have an easier time attaining career success and higher paychecks.

4. Always Unhappy

It’s no secret that very few people enjoy being at work. However, most people bear through it to pursue their career goals or just to keep paying the bills.

And although some workplaces can be toxic and overly stressful, if your employer takes time to show appreciation and improve the workplace but you’re still constantly irritable, then the issue may be with you.

Since neurotic personalities can become irritable even at the slightest bit of stress, they are less likely to find happiness with their company or careers, even if things are going well.

Furthermore, being neurotic could be the reason why you have been unhappy with every job you have ever had. If you’re constantly worrying, dealing with negative thoughts, and overwhelmed by emotions, you’re not likely to enjoy the environment you are working in, no matter how great your job is.

How to Cope With Neuroticism

Now that you’re aware of how your neuroticism affects your work, you’re probably looking for some advice on how to improve.

The good news is that although neuroticism is a personality trait, that doesn’t mean you can’t improve your mental health or emotional instability. You will probably always have a predisposition to experience more emotional ups and downs than other people. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t find ways to cope or function better at work.

As with any emotional or mental condition, therapy is a great way to help reduce and cope with neuroticism. Talking with a counselor can help you find strategies and tools to cope with the challenges of day-to-day life.

Mindfulness and meditation are also great tools to ease neuroticism. Mindfulness can help you become aware of and reduce worry and negative self-talk, while meditation can bring you a few moments of peace and calm each day.

Having a neurotic personality may have its challenges in life and at work, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. By developing strategies to cope and manage your emotions, you can develop a greater buffer and resiliency to the various challenges encountered at work.

If you are interested in learning more about neuroticism and how it can affect your life, head over to BetterHelp for more information and advice.

Written by:

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

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