Newest Burnout Cure: Quiet Quitting for Mental Health
Hustle culture exhaustion is out, quiet quitting for mental health is in.
To put it simply, quiet quitting is when you only do what’s required of you at work – no more, no less.
Originating on the massively popular social media app TikTok, this silent protest is gaining traction as more workers are becoming less willing to go above and beyond for bare minimum salary. The stress and collective grief of the pandemic led many employees to a breaking point where they not only want, but need, to prioritize their own personal life.
Despite being trendy, is quiet quitting actually beneficial for the average worker? Does putting well-being over productivity help mental health in the long run?
What does quiet quitting look like?
There is no definitive way to quiet quit. It’s more of a mentality rather than a specific action. The main point is to refuse to do anything beyond your job description or pay grade. Quiet quitters can do many things, such as:
- Opt out of non-mandatory meetings
- Refuse to work nights and/or weekends
- Not respond to emails or messages outside of work hours
- Not speaking up in meetings unless needed
- Not volunteering for tasks or extra work
- Take full advantage of sick and paid time off
- Avoiding social/work events
This might sound obvious, but for a long time, there has been societal pressure to climb the corporate ladder and some employees are even scared of being replaced. A study from Statista found that 1/3 of Americans don’t use their sick time at all. The need to be a competitive and accomplished worker has unfortunately prevented healthy work life balance for many.
Why are people quiet quitting?
Burnout, burnout, burnout.
Burnout has been defined by the World Health Organization as an occupational phenomenon characterized by three factors:
- Feelings of emotional or physical exhaustion
- Increased negativity towards work or mental disconnect
- Reduced professional efficacy
Burnout should be taken seriously, as it can spread over to other areas of life such as your wellness and interpersonal life. Long-term burnout has been linked to depression and anxiety, as well as increased vulnerability to colds and the flu. Reasons for burnout can include:
- Unfair treatment at the workplace
- Lack of clarity or consistency in responsibilities and duties
- Overwhelming workloads
- Lack of communication or support from management
As many can imagine, this is becoming increasingly common in America. According to a 2020 report by MHA National, 83% of workers felt emotionally drained from their employment. Of those who reported feeling drained, a whopping 99% agreed that workplace stress affected their mental health.
A majority of workers are overworking at the cost of their health without seeing wages increase. Especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, it’s no wonder motivation and company loyalty are dwindling. Mental health in the workplace has been neglected for too long, and now workers are taking their work life balance into their own hands.
Is quiet quitting good for your mental health?
All signs seem to point to quiet quitting being the ultimate burnout cure, but the honest answer is that it depends. Quiet quitting is ultimately employees setting boundaries, not only with their employer but with themselves. The protection of their time and efforts can be redirected to uplifting activities such as devoting more to loved ones, exercising, being with nature, traveling, hobbies, etc. Being able to recover from burnout by caring for one’s body, mind, and spirit can definitively have a positive influence your mental health.
On the flip side of this, studies show job engagement and satisfaction greatly correlate with mental health. Even if you’re intentionally disengaging from work due to the lack of fair compensation and recognition, the realities of your situation can still be demoralizing. Society tends to frame careers as one of the major pillars of life, so it is easy to feel a lack of purpose if you are disconnected from your job.
Overall, the effects of this method on mental health largely depend on the kind of person you are and the values and goals you hold.
Should you quiet quit? What if you don’t want to?
With the pros and cons of quiet quitting considered, the decision is up to you. Quiet quitting might be the best option for an unfulfilling job, as it maintains emotional and financial stability. Not to mention it’s easier to quiet quit now more than ever before with the rise of remote work. There tends to be less pressure when you don’t have a boss physically looking over your shoulder.
It should also be noted that quiet quitting may not be effective or possible for some. Some critics point out that only those with societal privileges can get away with doing only the bare minimum. They argue that certain demographics still must overachieve to be considered competent due to prejudice against their race, sexuality, gender presentation, etc.
If you’re unhappy at your job but consider this method lacking, it might be a better route to learn how to set less extreme boundaries while still being engaged at work. If possible, consider communicating with HR and your manager on how you’d feel better supported at work. Properly “switch off” from work when you go home and learn to how to say no when your workload is full. Take mental health days when you need them.
There’s always the option of actually quitting too. Obviously, these suggestions won’t work for all — there’s a reason why quiet quitting is trending after all. So, if you’re lucky enough to be in a position to quit, ditch the job for a career that actually fulfills you. You do not have to stay in situations that no longer serve you; it is okay to put your well-being first.
Hopefully, as companies see quiet quitters multiply, management will seek out organizational solutions that make the mental health and wellness of employees their biggest priority. Until then, if your mental health is becoming too difficult to manage, remember that you can always reach out for help. Start your healing journey by contacting your primary care provider or our team at The Meadowglade to assess your symptoms and possible treatments. To learn more about us and our programs, contact a member of our admissions team today.