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When is it okay to quit your job for the sake of mental health?

Not so long ago, upping and leaving your job for the sake of mental health is a notion that is often frowned upon by many. Our parents, particularly those of the baby boomer generation, would ding on us for leaving our jobs. Especially in a time when the recession has hit the economy and everyone is struggling to make ends meet, the lack of a job can be concerning, as it leaves our fate in the air. Yet, thanks to Covid-19 and the remote working culture, along with several big movements in our time, mental health has become a widely acknowledged and embraced topic. Today, we live in incredibly different times where workplace mental health is prioritized. Many millennials and generation Zs are openly talking about quitting jobs without fear of being stigmatized or judged. And today, it is not uncommon to see people quit their jobs for reasons related to personal well-being but leaving your job is an entirely different thought process. At what point should you consider leaving your job? What constitutes a valid reason to up and leave your job? Perhaps these factors will help you put things into perspective.

When we start to feel unhappy with our job

There’s a common saying that ‘We work to live, and not live to work.’ Just to be clear, we’re not suggesting you quit your job on the first note of unhappiness. Every job has its setbacks and bumpy ride, and we all need to learn how to manage these challenges. What we are saying is that if you start to feel a sense of dread and stress that comes with your job over a long period, this is your mind telling you that this job no longer brings you happiness. If your job consistently makes you feel burnout, this could be a red flag for your mental health. Meaningfulness is the number one thing that keeps everyone tied to their job, and if this is significantly absent in your job, this may suggest that you need to take a step back and reassess your prospects in the career. On the contrary, if you go into every job feeling incredibly stressed out and unhappy, this may suggest a deeper, unresolved issue that needs to be addressed.

When the job becomes physically and mentally strenuous

If a job is making you feel unhappy and drained at the same time, this can spell bigger trouble. Consider if you’re finding it hard to make time for yourself and loved ones after a tiring day of work or if you’re coming home with zero energy to remotely care about anything. You no longer have time for self-care, you are subjected to a senseless grind that goes on and on forever, and you are developing unhealthy coping habits to stay sane. In recent years, studies have shown that increasing amounts of people are developing revenge bedtime procrastination, or the act of staying up to “revenge” against their busy daytime by fitting in leisure activities at the expense of sleep and health. If a job is causing us to compromise our health to retain a sense of humanity, it’s time for us to reevaluate the job. Feeling a sense of detachment from reality is a very dangerous sign that your job has taken a toll on your health, and it should be addressed before it spirals out of control.

When you live and breathe a toxic workplace

A toxic workplace has been linked to depression, stress, burnout and low job satisfaction, all of which negatively impact our mental health. Common examples of toxic workplaces include poor leadership and management, corporate politics, harassment of different forms, bullying, discrimination, and verbal abuse. These days, many people are also campaigning for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at work, alongside work-life balance. HRs that do not provide the necessary assistance and support to employees are exposed online. Leaders that do not value team members and treat them horribly are canceled. Companies that do not meet this standard have been canceled. In some other cases, it results in an exodus of employees leading to huge PR damage and backlash.

When complacency exists in the job

Complacency is not to be confused with comfort. At some point in our lives, we all find a job that we’re comfortable with. There is job satisfaction and meaningfulness to be found in our career. We continue to hone our skills and contribute meaningfully to society through our ways. This is comfort. Complacency on the other hand, hinders growth. It breeds over-comfort with your job so much that it prevents us from learning and growing. It causes you to develop an inflated sense of ego and entitlement towards your job that evolves into arrogance. Complacency is the voice that urges you to reject growth, whereas comfort tells you that you are satisfied and thriving. A person who is complacent with their jobs should be worried about losing out on growth and falling behind as many jobs are evolving to replace humans with cost-effective technology.

When you have tried everything and nothing works out

Some jobs aren’t meant to be. You can give 120% to a job and it still doesn’t work out. Sometimes, it’s simply a mismatch of talent and expectations. Other times, people just don’t feel connected or passionate enough about their jobs and want to quit. There’s nothing wrong with quitting a job if you believe you have already done your best and things still aren’t working out. Forcing yourself to love a job that does not stimulate you is worse than staying with a job that breeds complacency. If you have already exhausted all options and worked together with your employers numerous times to come to a compromise and it still leads to nowhere, then it’s best for either parties to terminate the agreement at their earliest convenience. There is no joy to be found in committing yourself to a job that gives you a sense of dread and agony.

When you can live with the consequences of your actions

It’s always easier to urge people to quit their jobs when they are unhappy and stressed out about it. But anyone that has found themselves in the dilemma will know that it takes a lot more than unhappiness and anger to turn in your resignation letter. Your lifestyle, financial commitments and (next) job security play a role in determining how soon you can throw in the towel. Unfortunately, some folks are forced to stick with their current job until they’ve successfully secured a plan B to move on. Others may spend their lifetime working one job because they have nowhere else to go. Mental wellbeing is incredibly important, but if quitting your job without a backup plan leads to further stress and uncertainty, it may not be such a wise decision to quit your job now. However, if you are confident in leaving your job and have no regrets turning back, then the least you could do is prepare to face the consequences that follow suit.

The bottom line?

Much like everything else that requires decision making and thinking through, there are truly no right or wrong choices in life. No one can ever tell you when to quit your job, and given the myriad of factors unique to you to consider, they shouldn’t. At the end of the day, only you know your circumstances best and how quitting your job may affect you. Our advice for you is to learn to be comfortable and accepting of the consequences that follow suit. In a world that preaches the importance of mental health, we are compelled to say this - follow your heart but listen to your mind.

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