Putting on a smile at work is a shared experience that many commonly feel in their career. People swallow their emotions all the time to keep the peace and avoid bringing personal problems upon others. This type of labor, called emotional labor, can result in a big cost to your mental health if not addressed.Emotional labor is a form of emotional regulation that requires you to suppress your feelings (whether that’s a negative emotion or even positive emotion) for the sake of others.
The term can also refer to small, unpaid tasks people complete to keep others happy. Over time, swallowing your feelings can lead to stress, happiness, and burnout, which is why it’s essential to find ways to ease your burden. Keep reading to learn more about emotional labor, including the types you might experience, examples, and how to cope if you’re struggling. When you ask questions like what is emotional labor, it’s important to consider where the term originated. Sociologists like Dr.
Arlie Hochschild have divided emotional labor into two main categories: surface acting and deep acting. “Emotional labor takes place in almost any setting — work, romantic relationships, friendships, family life, and even online. Given that, it’s easy to see how depleting it can be if you’re facing emotional labor in one or more of these realms.” Surface acting involves hiding your true emotions and pretending that you feel differently. While it doesn’t require you to actually change your feelings, it does ask you to present emotions you don’t really feel.