Joblessness is no fun, but as it turns out, there's an alternative that's even worse. According to recent research, having a bad job is worse for your mental health than unemployment. So when your grandparents are quizzing you about the usefulness of your college degree this holiday, you now have a scientific excuse for not applying to flip burgers. The "any job is a good job" mentality is, frankly, misguided.Despite what self-help books will often preach to you, the psychological field has long since agreed that income and job security are integral parts of happiness. However, recent data questions the perceived link between employment and happiness. The study, conducted at the Australian National University, looked at the link between mental health and job status, Mashable reports. Using data from the Household, Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, lead author Peter Butterworth found that, although there is plenty of evidence that long-term unemployment has detrimental effects on mental health (especially for those with higher education), the participants who moved into poor-quality jobs actually ended up worse psychologically than those who remained unemployed. Having a good job is definitely better for you than unemployment, but Butterworth's analysis of the data suggests that, in terms of mental health, it may not be the best idea to do something that makes you seriously unhappy just for the sake of having a job.
But what counts as a "bad" job, exactly? Almost everyone will do a job they hate at some point. According to Mashable, defining a job as bad or good depends on the degree to which it promotes "control, autonomy, challenge, variety, and task discretion." Good jobs are ones the worker is qualified for and enjoys, while a poor-quality job is "boring, routine, or represents underemployment or a poor match for the employee's skills." Your parents and teachers have probably told you that it's better to at least have a job, even if it's miserable or dangerous, in order to keep your foot in the door, and this attitude is mirrored by many politicians' almost hostile attitude toward the unemployed. However, it's important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health. So if you're absolutely unhappy with your current job situation, it might be time to take the plunge and start looking elsewhere.Maybe wait until you're done holiday shopping though, because holy cow presents are expensive.
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