Should I Quit My Job if it Stresses Me Out?
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Since work is something that takes up around 40-80 of our productive hours each week, it makes sense that the way we feel about our stressful jobs affects the way we feel during our downtime.
The pandemic has burdened working moms with added responsibilities at home, like managing kids’ schooling.
A recent study by WerkLabs confirms that working women are twice as likely as working men to consider quitting their stressful jobs in the next year. The study found 38% of participants report an impact on their work and well-being.
Yet even if you’re in a miserable position right now, can it make any sense to resign amid a global pandemic?
Experts predict that the global economy will be hurting for a long time. It might be years before unemployment rates reach pre-pandemic levels.
If you have a job you hate or one that's causing you lots of stress, affecting your health negatively, and otherwise making you miserable, it’s important to remember you do have choices.
It may not always feel that way, with bills looming and a mortgage or rent to pay. But there are several steps you can take to improve your situation.
Identify the Cause of Your Stressors
First off, it’s important to know what, exactly, is causing your job-related stress.
- Are you burned out?
- Are you being asked to perform a role you don’t have the qualifications for?
- Is it impossible to work from home and simultaneously homeschool your kids with no personal space?
Keeping a journal, a recommendation of the American Psychological Association, is a good way to identify your specific stressors if you’re not sure:
“Record your thoughts, feelings and information about the environment, including the people and circumstances involved, the physical setting and how you reacted.”
Even understanding the times of day or situations likely to cause your stress to rise, and finding patterns in your reactions, can help you have a better understanding of what steps you should take next.
Read: How Do I Banish the Sunday Night Blues?
When you’re working with a terrible boss (or difficult coworker), there are some steps you can and should take to protect yourself.
First, meet with HR. Make sure every inappropriate action is documented by HR and by you. Right down the date, the details of the interaction, and exactly what was said. Also consider sharing the interactions with a trusted mentor, your spouse/partner, or a friend.
While you may not be able to do anything about your boss, you can protect yourself in the case of being unfairly terminated at work.
If you feel that you’re being physically threatened in any way, you need to report this behavior to the authorities and leave the situation immediately.
Unemployment insurance often allows workers in dangerous job situations to file claims, even if they voluntarily leave their jobs.
Are you in a situation where you’re expected to perform a role that you don’t have the qualifications for?
If so, you might benefit from outside training, even if you have to pay for it out-of-pocket. New skills can bolster your confidence and make an overwhelming work situation feel manageable.
Bonus Reading: What Is Impostor Syndrome And Can It Affect My Finances?
If you’re burned out in your job, it may be that you need a break. Are you taking all of your vacation time?
Even a one-week staycation, where you turn off all work-related email and phone calls, can help you mentally.
Alternatively, you might consider going part-time or taking on a job-sharing role. If you’re able to manage this financially, it can be a great way to achieve more work/life balance, which can help with your burnout.
Alternatives to Leaving Your Stressful Job
While it might be keeping you going to fantasize about giving your job two middle fingers, if you’re not in a good economic position to leave, consider other ways of managing a stressful work environment first.
Have a frank conversation with your boss or supervisor.
If you’re overwhelmed by working and extra pandemic responsibilities like virtual schooling, discuss the possibility of a sabbatical, leave of absence, or reduced hours.
Your company undoubtedly has other employees in the same boat who need more work flexibility.
You might find that you can come to an agreement with your employer, allowing you to better manage the increased demands on your time.
Take Steps to Mitigate Your Stress
There are a few simple steps you can take to affect your level of stress at work without having to leave your stress-filled position. One is improving your relationships at work.
Do you have colleagues you can “chat” with over Zoom for an informal lunch date? Have you participated in virtual happy hours?
Focus on improving your relationships with co-workers, especially if you have a difficult relationship with a boss or someone else in the company, in order to develop positive relationships in the workplace.
An additional stressor may be your environment.
If you’re working from home, try implementing a daily walk at lunch in order to get out of the house and get some fresh air. Listen to music if it’s not too distracting, or take an afternoon to refresh your office space with potted plants and pictures.
Another effective way to process and work through stress is with a counselor.
Many therapists are offering virtual sessions over the computer, making it easier than ever to talk through your problems with a professional. And your employee benefits may pay for this too!
Play the Worst Case Scenario Game
If leaving your stressful job seems like the only answer, make sure to think through all the possible worst-case outcomes.
- What if you can’t find a new job for an entire year? For two?
- What if you can only find a lower-paying position?
- Would becoming a freelancer make sense?
- Could your time away from work negatively affect your career progression?
- Have you already changed jobs recently?
Once you’ve thought through the worst that can happen, see if any of those scenarios sound like situations you can live with.
When even the worst of the worst-case scenarios feels better than your current job, that’s probably a good sign you should resign.
Evaluate Your Money Situation
Before quitting your job, you’ll need to carefully evaluate your finances.
- How much debt do you have?
- What do those minimum payments look like?
- Do you have other sources of income?
- Do you have an emergency fund?
- How many months can you survive without income from this job?
Not sure how to answer these questions? Then you’ll definitely need to spend some time evaluating your finances. Review at least the past three months of expenses to get a real idea of your spending each month.
Download your credit card statements and bank statements and write down every expense you had for each month. Then, average out the expenditures over the three months (or more).
Make sure to include minimum payments in your total. This will give you a rough idea of how much you’ll need to survive each month. Or give you an idea of where you can cut your spending.
Do you have enough saved to float you for 6 months? A year? Two weeks until you’re paid again?
If you don’t have 4 – 6 months’ cushion – avoid resigning just yet if you can – and set a short-term goal of increasing your savings until you get there.
Even taking a small action like increasing your savings can give you more feelings of control over your employment situation.
Is it Time to Quit Your Stressful Job?
If you’re suffering mentally or even physically from job-related stress, you may have no other choice but to quit your position – don’t stay in a dangerous situation.
However, in today’s work environment, leaving your employer before you have another opportunity lined up is something you want to avoid if at all possible.
Evaluate all of your options with your current employment before jumping ship, and make sure, regardless of your decision, to take steps to save cash. Never a bad idea during these uncertain times.
Article written by Laurie
Laurie is a team member of Women Who Money and the founder of The Three Year Experiment, a blog about building wealth in order to become location independent.