Calling It Quits is a series about the current culture of quitting.
As someone with generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, I am familiar with anxiety attacks. But in 2016 when I gave notice at my job they got really sharp. I cried a lot. A fluttering nervous energy transpired in my body and it would not budge. group of useless thoughts What have you done? Why did you do it? – became a soundtrack in my head. It was loud and repeated.
“Uncertainty is like gasoline on anxiety,” said Craig Sawchuk, MD, co-chair of clinical practice in the department of psychiatry and psychology at the Mayo Clinic. I know this from experience: Major life changes have always catalyzed my anxiety and triggered high-octane rumination.
In 2021, when the number of quits spikes and Americans see the highest quit rate since the 1970s, according to the Department of Labor, I was envious but also shocked. Happily giving up stability in favor of winging it? i couldn’t imagine choosing Uncertainty. I couldn’t imagine my life turning into an amorphous blob of time instead of neatly parceled segments of working hours.
anxiety can be constructive
Almost no one considers quitting or quitting without at least a little bit of anxiety. There are concerns about food on the table, health insurance and child care, to name a few. But for the clinically nervous, the thought of leaving a job, even a bad one, can open a can of worms.
The latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-V, lists several disorders under the umbrella of anxiety. They include GAD—”excessive worry and anxiety (apprehensive expectation), occurring most days for at least 6 months”—as well as phobias and panic disorder, which may overlap but are not synonymous, a clinical said psychologist and head of the Adult Psychosocial Intervention Research Program at the National Institute of Mental Health, Jennifer Willett.
David Rosmarin, associate professor of psychology and founder of the Anxiety Center at Harvard Medical School, said that when people are in a job for some time, even one they dislike, structure and repetition can be a calming force. : “You know the journey is 49 minutes and you have to go to a train station you don’t like going to. You know your boss is a jerk. But when you go, especially cause for concern comes to the fore because you are facing uncertainty.
Despite how it may feel, anxiety is not necessarily a sign of poor judgment. It may mean the opposite, said Dr. Rosemarin, whose book “Thriving With Anxiety” is being published in the fall: “The crazy thing is that when people feel anxiety rising, often but not always, if Be it in the context of a life change, it’s really a sign that they’re on the right track.”
what if you want Looking to Quit but Feeling Stuck?
Dr. Willett said that the ability to weigh different consequences without actual trial and error is what makes us uniquely human. Problems begin when we cannot come to a decision and the thinking phase turns into worrying. Once someone is caught in a cycle of worry, she says, it usually causes them to do one of two things: react impulsively or feel completely stuck.
“When that sympathetic nervous system is activated, you stop digesting food,” Dr. Willett offered as an example. “You have to digest food, otherwise you won’t live very long. But stress is so effective that it can actually shut down these essential functions.”
It can also happen to anxious people who suspect it’s time to quit. Dr. Sawchuk said the key is to gently approach whatever is causing the discomfort, by “doing the opposite of what the anxiety is telling you to do.” “If it’s saying ‘avoid, avoid, avoid’, then we have to figure out ways to gradually approach contact,” he said.
Dr. Franklin Schneier, co-director of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, states that in order to find a middle ground between impulsivity and impulsivity, it is important to distinguish between “what is unwanted worrying and what is useful problem-solving.” . He explained: “Some people get caught up in worrying speculations, repetitions; Sometimes they believe that this is actually helpful problem-solving when it may just be spinning their wheels. Instead, he recommends that “if you find yourself with negative thoughts about the situation, think constructively about it: ‘What do I really need? What I’m afraid of can help me manage.'” What can be helpful?’”
As Dr. It is wavering without a decision that is the real worry maker, Willett said. Making any kind of decision – to stay or go – will at least break that worry loop. If it turns out that you regret your decision, you can always make changes.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember for anyone in the throes of a prolonged period of anxiety or immobilization, even if it is cold comfort in the moment, can be feel Bad, but it’s not permanent, fatal, or rare.
Be prepared, realistic and kind to yourself
Dr. Schneier says preparation is key if you’re venturing into the uncharted territory of unemployment. “Be prepared to expect anxiety and accept it,” he said. “You need to create your own structure and routine, a place where you’re going to do things, deadlines for what you’re going to do, maybe accountability to share your plans with someone who has You trust.”
She also stresses the importance of being realistic and suggests setting small goals that you have control over, like spending three hours preparing your resume, rather than telling yourself you’ll find a new job next week. The second goal, Dr. Schneier said, “is a recipe for anxiety because it’s a goal you don’t have direct control over.” He also recommends exercise, meditation and relaxation as first steps, and therapy and medication if your anxiety becomes too much to bear.
Most important, Dr. Rosemarin said, don’t catastrophize or judge yourself. “That’s usually where people start having trouble,” he said. “It’s when they feel nervous, scared, stressed, and then they become preoccupied with the fact that they feel stressed—meta-meta anxious.” Instead, he suggests, take it easy: “Notice that you’re feeling anxious; Don’t pretend nothing is happening. Accept it.”
You are not alone, especially now
The pandemic really prepared us — or at least gave us a preview — of what post-quit anxiety might feel like. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: “Rates of depression and anxiety were rising before the pandemic, but the grief, trauma, and physical and social isolation that many people experienced during the pandemic exacerbated these issues.” increased.” Suffice it to say that there is a community of like-minded people out there, perhaps now more than ever. “We certainly know that there are people who before the pandemic did not meet the criteria for generalized anxiety disorder” who do now, Dr. Vilatte said.
For better or worse, Covid has ripped off that Band-Aid for us. “Do we want a pandemic on the world? Absolutely not,” Dr. Savchuk said. But there have been silver linings. The pandemic proved that many of us can adapt quickly during chaotic times, including those of us most affected by the chaos. The emergence of video calls and flexible schedules has changed the traditional workweek in ways that have been beneficial for some people with anxiety.
When I left a second job in 2022 that I was recruited for and had only been doing for three months, I didn’t get anxiety attacks. what changed? For one thing, I’ve been down this road before, and familiar roads are less intimidating than new ones. I was a full-time freelancer before taking the job, so a return to gig life — something that used to scare me — also seemed right. And in 2022, I, like everyone else, was tired; The idea of being able to set my own schedule and take an afternoon nap was appealing, not disabling.
Plus, I sold a book in 2021, and quitting meant I actually had time to write it. I had friends to look up to, money in the bank and antidepressants in my blood. And quitting didn’t cause any major disruption to my routine because my full-time job was remote, and now that I quit I was… still remote.
Once I made the decision to leave, I acted without endless hesitation. I Was Making a Huge Change in My Life by Quitting My Job, But All Things Considered, It Didn’t Happen feel Big enough.