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Why You Can (And You Should) Quit Your Job Because of Stress

Why You Can (And You Should) Quit Your Job Because of Stress

Does your job give you chronic stress? Chronic stress is different than regular stress because it causes your brain to consistently release adrenaline and cortisol hormones.[1] In turn, your body reacts to the constant strain: you feel fatigued all the time, have frequent headaches, can’t concentrate, and you get sick a lot more than you used to before you started working here. Those are just a few of the symptoms of chronic stress.

While you’re working a job that causes chronic stress, the solution seems complex. The common advice is for you to use all sorts of tools and strategies — but now you’re discovering the simplest, least stressful solution: quit.

But you also wonder, “I quit my job because of stress, is it bad?”

Not at all! Reading further, you’ll find out exactly why quitting your job is the smart thing to do. Our culture is chained to the idea of persisting for consistency’s sake, but there’s a reason why Ralph Waldo Emerson said,

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

To be consistent in a stressful situation such as yours is to work harder, not smarter. And don’t be fooled by the word “quit” — this is about empowerment.

Keep going to find out why you should quit your job and leave chronic stress behind.

1. Your Toxic Job Is Making You Sick

Chronic stress and consistently adverse work conditions will affect your health. Think back over the course of the last 6 months or so. How has your health been?

You need to think about the long-term. Even if you haven’t been sick lately, people oftentimes make the mistake of running themselves down over an extended period of time. When you do this, your immune system flatlines and you get hit hard.

Poor health is your body’s way of telling you something isn’t working. There are some specific things to look for when it comes to stress-related health problems. According to CompTIA, the following symptoms are telltale signs your job stress is negatively affecting your health:[2]

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  • You need to sleep far more than normal, or you suffer from insomnia.
  • You’ve experienced significant weight loss or weight gain.
  • You lack energy and motivation, and you don’t feel like socializing very often.
  • You seem to always be coming down with a cold, and when you get a cold or any other illness, it takes longer than it should to recover.
  • Your job encroaches on your life to the extent that you don’t have time or motivation to exercise.

No job is worth losing your health over, and if you haven’t experienced a major breakdown yet, this is the perfect chance to break away.

Wait until your health breaks down completely, and you won’t be able to search for another job, or at least it will be much harder.

2. Multitasking Is a Recipe for Failure

Is there nothing insanely stressful about your job yet you are still insanely stressed? Chances are you’re juggling a full-time job and another (or more than just another) full-time obligation.

For example, if you’re a nontraditional student who went back to school because your job prospects were slim — yet you still have to work while you’re in school — you’re creating stress.

You need to quit something. About 61 percent of multitaskers who seek counseling have anxiety, and 49 percent are depressed.[3]

Counseling helps, but it’s not a cure for multitasking. Professor Gloria Mark at the University of California, Irvine says that people who multitask are more susceptible to stress, neuroticism, and impulsivity.

According to Mark, it takes your brain about 23 minutes and 15 seconds to regain focus after you switch tasks. This drains your energy reserves, and if you continue, you can enter a state of chronic stress.[4]

People who have two or three major priorities weighing on them all the time are caught in a multitasking trap. Determine your priorities and evaluate your job. If your job is not something you’re passionate about and it’s not at the top of your priority list, drop it.

3. Employers That Don’t Help Relieve Stress Aren’t Doing Their Job

The truth is employment shouldn’t be a one-sided relationship.

You pour your heart into your job, you take pride in your work, and you truly care about the outcome. An employer who doesn’t encourage you to take breaks and doesn’t provide opportunities for stress-relief is an employer who doesn’t deserve to have you around.

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You offer something many fantastic employers would bend over backwards to have: a work ethic and a high level of commitment. Good employers know it’s their responsibility not to run people into the ground. They know they must pay attention to how much you work as well as how stressed you are.

At the core, you’re dealing with a culture of stress. A study of organizational culture showed that a hierarchical, bureaucratic culture, in which the organization showed little care for employee well-being, created a state of low morale.[5]

An organization’s negative, stress-based culture leads to poor performance, high turnover, and a low level of engagement.

The bottom line is that when you’re dealing with a culture of stress, you’re completely justified in being uncommitted.

A company’s culture is its identity. Don’t commit to a culture — therefore an identity — that is tearing itself down instead of building itself up.

4. There Are Great Jobs You’ll Love

A lot of times, when someone who is overly stressed doesn’t quit and find a new job, it’s because they feel stuck. They aren’t exercising free will, they aren’t choosing to recognize the agency and autonomy that allows them to go where they please when they please.

Philosopher Mitch Horowitz talks about this in his new book, The Miracle Club: How Thoughts Become Reality. Although there are some circumstances you can’t control, within your current set of circumstances you can select a life you prefer.

To put this in the employment context, you are able to envision the type of job you want and the type of company you’d like to work for. You’re not working somewhere else because you haven’t selected to do so.

Select a different job and take the steps to get there. You have the ability to concentrate all your efforts in a new direction.

Yes, there are practical considerations — including the fact that you need to pay the bills. There are also practical solutions. Here are some of them:

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  • List your resources. Do you have a car that’s in decent condition? Are you able-bodied? Do you have an internet connection at home or at least one you can access every day?
  • Search for part-time gigs you can work when you’re able, such as driving for a ride-share company or any of the other gig economy work you have the resources to do.
  • List your bills and calculate how much income you’ll need to pay them while you’re looking for a different full-time job.
  • Work your part-time gig enough to pay the bills.
  • Spend the rest of your time looking for the full-time position you really want.

A lot of people try to look for a different full-time job while still working their current job, but that won’t give you as much time as the part-time gig strategy.

When you’re looking for something new, don’t just select anything that comes along. You’re selecting a different path from among the nearly infinite paths you could select. To select the right path, find the answer to the most important question.

Here’s the important question to ask yourself:

What do I love to do?

Once you answer that question, all other actions must center on getting to a place where you can do nothing but what you love to do.

5. You Are the Driving Force Behind Your Own Success

Right now, you’re working for an employer who is placing responsibility on you and you’re not in control. The responsibilities and tasks in front of you are selected by other people.

Why do you have all these responsibilities and tasks to begin with? Because you have the skill set necessary to do them, as well as a great many other things.

In terms of types of things you could do, your work represents a relatively small percentage. The corporate division of labor is such that most people only take care of one or two types of things, with a bunch of related subtasks. The rest of your intellectual and physical ability goes untouched.

This isn’t to say you don’t have a lot to do — you’re probably overloaded with tasks, you’re bogged down in minutia. But you know you’re capable of other things.

In general, you’re capable of a higher level of thinking. The reason why you haven’t started your own business or struck out on a freelance career is you haven’t selected that type of route yet.

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Now is the time to own the full capacity of your abilities. The stress at your current job isn’t worth it when you can do the thing you love so much better.

Once you seize onto what you love to do and find a way to make it your life, stress becomes positive. It’s no longer chronic, harmful stress because you view it differently.

Psychologist Kelly McGonigal discusses how, in a massive study, people who viewed stress as a positive thing didn’t have harmful physical reactions to it and actually lived longer than those who viewed it negatively [6].

Once you’re doing what you love, the pressure of getting things done is akin o the increase of heart rate from exercising. Since you are focused on the thing you love — much like a runner is focused on the act of running until completion — you cope with stress by continuing with your momentum.

You look at problems as possibilities. That’s how you succeed.

Stress Is Your Spark

It’s true that a toxic job full of chronic stress can make you sick, and a lifestyle that involves multitasking and lack of focus will contribute to a lack of well-being.

At the same time, it’s true that you wouldn’t have come to this realization and an important move in your life if it weren’t for stress.

A level of stress you can’t handle is your catalyst to do something new. You’re going to select the path you want and use your capabilities to actualize your full potential.

In the end, the stress was a good thing. It made you aware of your threshold and now you know it’s time to move on.

More Tips Related to Work Stress

Featured photo credit: Saulo Mohana via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Dan Matthews, CPRP

A Certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner with an extensive background working with clients on community-based rehabilitation.

10 Essential Steps to Success to Actually Reach Your Dreams 11 Simple and Effective Ways to Manage Stress What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It) 15 Ways to Set Professional Goals (Examples Included) 15 Ways to Stop Overthinking and Worrying About Everything

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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    Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

    The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

    But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

    However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

    This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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    Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

    We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

    Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

    Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

    The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

    When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

    When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

    How to Make Decision Effectively

    Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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    1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

    You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

    Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

    Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

    2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

    You don’t have to choose all the time.

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

    Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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    3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

    You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

    The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

    Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

    Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

    So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

    More Tips About Decision Making

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

    Reference

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