Anxiety affects everyone differently. Some people shut down. Others get over-stimulated. It might feel like your heart is racing out of your chest or that it’s hard to concentrate. Many people feel stressed and overwhelmed along with being anxious. There are a lot of reasons for people to feel anxious, but one of the biggest causes of stress, overwhelm, and anxiety is work.
Will quitting your job help your anxiety? Maybe. If you work in a high-stress job and have a lot of anxiety, there’s no doubt that taking some time off or changing to a less stressful career will help your anxiety. If you find yourself asking “should I quit my job because of anxiety?” then it might be time to reevaluate your work situation.
No one wants to admit this, but here’s the truth – if your job causes you severe anxiety, it’s important to prioritize your mental health over work. Decide whether it’s possible to take some time off to regroup and lower your stress levels. If your job is in a high-stress environment, see if you can build in mental health days with vacation time to destress. Taking mini holidays for yourself throughout the year, if possible, could be one way to avoid leaving a job that provides financial stability.
I totally get that leaving your job is hard. You don’t want to let anyone down, including yourself. You might be afraid that quitting your job because of anxiety is a failure. Or you might be worried about finances. But at the end of the day, if your mental health is shit, what good if your job to you?
People with severe anxiety are often people-pleasers, which makes it really hard to give an explanation as to why you’re leaving your job. It can also stand in your way of moving on from a stressful job. As I said before, though, if your job is ruining your mental health, it could be time to move on. And you don’t owe anyone an explanation.
If you’re physically sick or injured, it’s socially acceptable and expected to take time off of work. But what about when your mental health is suffering? Everyone’s different, but if you find yourself working yourself to the bone to make other people happy, you’re not tending to your mental health. Anxiety often hits high-achievers hard and can sometimes cause them not to do their jobs properly. If you’re stumbling your way through the day and feel like you want to jump out of your skin, it’s time to evaluate your mental health. If you start having panic attacks or find it hard to focus when usually that’s not a problem for you, it may be time to take a second look at how your job is affecting your mental health.
How do you know if your job is ruining your mental health? Well, to start with, if you feel terrible at work all the time, that could be one sign. Maybe you can’t bring yourself to go to work. Or you never feel like you can leave. Perhaps you’ve lost the desire to socialize at work (or outside of work). Sometimes people who deal with severe anxiety related to work feel overlooked and ignored. But the big question is – is your personal life suffering? Because if your job is causing you so much stress and anxiety that you stop finding pleasure in things or in being with friends and family, we’ve got a problem.
If you notice that your interest in your job or ability to do your job decreases, it may be a sign that your job is ruining your mental health. You might feel dread about getting up and going to work. Small tasks might become difficult. Maybe you start to think that you’re not good at your job. All of this adds to anxiety, guilt, and stress that you carry with you every day.
Leaving your job can create extra anxiety if you don’t have something else lined up or if you leave one stressful situation for another. That’s the nature of anxiety. It’s a lot of “what if” thinking. It’s easy to assume that the negative possible futures will happen, which could affect you when it comes to making big changes, especially changes that affect your finances. When deciding whether to quit your job because of anxiety, sit down and evaluate the situation. Are you having a stressful month and you just need some rest or is your job ruining your mental health?
On the one hand, quitting your job because of anxiety means that the anxiety won. By leaving a stressful situation, you might end up defeated by the job and may feel as if you failed. If anxiety wins by quitting your job, then you may let anxiety beat you in other areas of your life. There’s something to be said for sticking it out and making some changes to decrease stress and anxiety.
There are changes you could make at work and then there are changes you can make in your personal life. Both could help you stay at your job and work through your anxiety.
The first is to make sure you’re taking care of yourself, both in body and in mind. Exercise, get enough sleep, and eat a balanced diet. When it comes to your mental health, see a therapist who specializes in anxiety and work-related stress. Make time for friends and family. Do things that bring you joy. Try to leave work at work, which can be hard if you work from home, so make sure you set clear boundaries around time and workspace.
You can also do things at work to decrease anxiety and stress. Talk to your supervisor about delegating some of your responsibilities to other members of the team. Take time during the day for breaks – take a walk outside, sit in a quiet place or listen to music on a break to keep your mood even. If you require more mental health assistance at work, talk to your HR representative to get the support you need.
If none of that works, then maybe quitting your job is the right answer. But make sure you have a plan. You might decide to take some time off, which could be good to dedicate time solely to taking care of yourself mentally and physically and tending to your relationships. If you find another job, do your research on the work climate and find out what resources are available to you should your anxiety and stress follow you to this job. Make sure that no matter what you’re talking to a therapist and working through your anxiety and stress.
Talk to your supervisor about the challenges you’re facing due to stress and anxiety. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about your mental health in detail, there are still ways to express that you are overwhelmed and maxed out.
You can describe the challenges you’re facing regarding your workload. Maybe you can talk about the specific parts of the job that are causing you to feel overwhelmed. If you feel comfortable talking about your anxiety, explain what it feels like when you are at work and how that affects your productivity level. You can always bring everything back to how the effect the job has on your mental health affects your performance and ability to do your work. Those are things your supervisor cares about.
Still not sure whether or not quitting your job will help your anxiety? I can help. Together, we can help you work through your decision and process your anxiety related to work.
While I won’t tell you what to do, I can help you get to the heart of what you want for yourself. Sometimes the anxiety from external (and internal) pressures can drown out the voice in our head and heart that tells us what we really want.
During our work together, you’ll learn how to manage your anxiety, stop doubting yourself, and step confidently into a decision that’s right for you.
I’m ready if you are. Reach out today to get started on reducing your work worries.
Danielle is an anxiety therapist and perfectionism coach. She specializes in helping busy millennials dial down their anxiety and ADHD, so they can perform at their best. Danielle has been featured on Apartment Therapy, SparkPeople, Lifewire, and Now Art World. When Danielle isn't helping her clients, she's playing video games or spending time with her partner and step children.