Feeling trapped in your job? Our Top 5 tips to make it more bearable.

Trapped in job_Tips to help burnout by The Skill Collective Psychologists counselling in Subiaco Perth


by Farah Gulamoydeen


Ever felt trapped in a job? Maybe it’s because you regularly feel overwhelmed at work, or maybe there are difficult people at work with whom you experience conflict, or work just hasn’t been rewarding for some time now, or if you’re experiencing burnout… feeling trapped is an all too common feeling. When situations like these arise, many people may consider making changes in their role or their career.

But, what if change is not an option? Or if change can’t happen immediately? Often there’s a lag between making a change and seeing it come to fruition (e.g. applying for a secondment, finding another job, starting an HR process in motion), and it’s during this interim period that you can experience a lot of stress, sometimes even may even lead to feelings of anxiety or depression (in which case, consider discussing with your GP). When that happens, what can you do make it through tough times? Read on for our top 5 tips to help when you feel trapped in your job.


If your mind is constantly say things like “I hate this job”, “My boss is the worst!”, “I can’t stand working with Steve!”, “I can’t wait to leave”,  chances are your mood is going to be pretty low. This, in turn, affects your motivation, which affects the work that you produce.

It can be hard at times to tune out of unhelpful thoughts, and unhelpful thinking styles can also take hold in the workplace. But what if we treated our thoughts like music playing at the shops - we can either listen to it and perhaps even sign along, or we can tune out. Letting our thoughts pass through us like an unwanted song, going in and out of our ears, is less stressful than listening to every single note and lyric!


Yes, you may feel trapped. But while you’re biding your time waiting for the changes you’ve put in place to come to fruition, there’s still work to get done and deadlines to meet. So how can you set aside the negative feelings, and move forward?

If this sounds familiar, it can help to understand that waiting to feel motivated is not the key. Motivation comes and goes, like feelings. Its presence – or lack thereof, doesn’t mean you stop doing what matters to you. Not feeling motivated doesn’t hold you back physically from working on the project that’s due.


When we’re upset, we often try to problem-solve our way out of it. But sometimes there are things that are beyond our control when we feel trapped in our jobs. If you have applied for a job elsewhere, you have to wait for the outcome. While waiting though, you still have a job to perform! Watch out for derailing thoughts:

·       Future-focused thoughts  such as thinking about the outcome of a job application, or about how the grass will be greener in the next job,

·       Past-focused thoughts where you recall all the unpleasant bits about this job you don’t like.

Instead, try to stay in the present moment - coming back to the present more frequently and acknowledging that (1) you’re not in control of the future, and (2) can’t change the past; means that you expend far less emotional energy at work.


The daily grind can be far from exciting for many of us – the work commute, interactions with others, difficult conversations with the boss, or even grappling with the photocopier at work. But rather than get caught up in the daily grind, let’s take a step back to see your bigger picture goals.

Bigger picture goals are those goals beyond work that we have. It may be saving up for a house, to travel, or pay for kids’ school fees. It’s bigger-picture life goals like these that give meaning to why we get out of bed to go to work, even if we might not enjoy our work tasks.

In this vein, try to view the daily grind as all of those little steps you take to help you achieve your bigger-picture life goals.


We tend to lose ourselves when we are consumed with regret, impatience, and frustration. As mentioned above, when we are consumed with unhelpful thoughts, feelings of demotivation, and even frustration from having to wait for other opportunities to come up, our behaviour at work may be impacted. We may find ourselves disengaged, snappy, or careless.

But, is that who you want to be at work? Is that the type of worker you want to be remembered as?  Staying true to one’s self is remembering what kind of worker we want to be, regardless of where we’re working. If you’re someone who prides themselves on being kind, thoughtful, and professional, could you keep to those values and maintain those personal standards? Would you like to leave the job knowing you remained the best version of yourself or leave not feeling proud of the actions you took when you felt trapped in the job?


If you find that you’re feeling trapped in your job and would like individual support, why not CONTACT US to make an appointment?

Feeling trapped and experiencing burnout? Why not grab our tip sheet below to learn more about what you can do.

RESOURCE LIBRARY - Tips Recover from Burnout by The Skill Collective psychologists counselling in Subiaco Perth

Grab our tip sheet and you'll also get access to our Resource Library filled with even more tips on wellbeing, mental health, and performance. You'll also receive news and updates at The Skill Collective. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any newsletter email you receive from us, or by contacting us. For more information please read our Privacy Policy and Terms + Conditions.