Are you ready to walk away from your job — even though you feel a real connection with your work (or at least, the money that comes with it)? Before you quit your job, consider. There may be ways to stick it out.
These strategies can help you make even a high-stress job work — and allow you to regain some much-needed balance. At the very least, they’ll give you time to get your head on straight before deciding whether to move on or stay put.
Try these tips before you quit your job:
1. Get real.
You won’t do yourself any favors by ignoring your stress, exhaustion or impending burnout. So, the first step is to get real about what you’re going through. Don’t think about what you’re going to do in the long run just yet. And don’t worry about sharing your realizations with others. For now, just focus on being honest with yourself.
How have you been feeling lately? How have you been sleeping, eating and caring for yourself? Are your work demands, habits and routines making it difficult for you to attend to your responsibilities to yourself or your loved ones? How does it impact your personal life?
Work can be stressful, sure. But just because our culture of overwork normalizes busyness that doesn’t mean that working in this way is a good thing. Ask yourself how your job is affecting you physically, intellectually and emotionally. If you really want to make a change, understanding and accepting your current reality is a vital first step.
2. Assess any potential health consequences.
There’s a big difference between a difficult job and a toxic one. It’s one thing to persist in a position that you love but that’s stressful and challenging. But, it’s quite another to forge forward with work that’s making you ill. So, before you commit to sticking it out and attempting to reduce your stress rather than walk away entirely, assess any potential health consequences that are manifesting as a result of your job.
Chronic stress and difficult working conditions can have a tangible and negative impact on your health. So, think back over the course of the past six months and ask yourself a few questions. Have you experienced any major changes in your sleep patterns? How about your weight — have there been any major changes there lately? Have you been getting sick more in recent months? Or, have other more serious illnesses come up? Has your job impacted your ability, or your motivation, to eat well or exercise?
These symptoms may be your body’s way of trying to tell you something. Consider talking to a doctor about how you’ve been feeling. It may be time to make some changes — either to your job or to your coping strategies.
3. Take charge of your inner narrative.
Have you ever heard the expression, “attitude is everything?” Well, it’s really true. The way you think about things really matters. If you wake up every day dreading going to work and thinking about what a horrible time you’re going to have once you get there, that’s probably having a pretty negative effect on your experience.
Finding ways to take charge of your inner narrative can be a powerful career-changing move. If you lean into feelings of self-confidence and away from self-defeating attitudes, for example, you’ll be doing yourself a big professional favor. Remind yourself that it’s not just what happens to you at work that matters, it’s how you handle it. It can be easy to forget that your attitude and approach is one of the most important factors in how you feel about your job.
4. Clear your head.
Before you quit your job, take some time to clear your head. You don’t want to make a decision from a place of exhaustion. Be at your best mentally and physically before deciding, and you can move forward in a constructive way.
Take a vacation if you can swing it. Or, at least be sure to set aside more time to exercise, enjoy nature, or dive into your hobbies. Giving yourself the time, and the permission, to get some distance from the day-in day-out stress of your job is essential. Doing so will help you to reset your mood and feel more grounded.
5. Stop multitasking.
Multitasking might feel almost essential when you’re overwhelmed at work. But, doing more than one thing at a time is inefficient and stress-provoking. If you want to feel better, both on the job and after hours, you ought to consider knocking it off, or at least cutting back.
You might feel like you’re getting a lot done when you multitask. But, the science is clear — multitasking really doesn’t work. Juggling too much at once diminishes quality. And, it lessens your overall enjoyment of the process of completing the tasks at hand, too. You’ll actually get more done, and feel calmer and happier, if you focus on just one thing at a time.
6. Have more fun with work friends.
There’s something special about the relationships you develop at work. Your work pals understand your job, and the challenges it involves, better than anyone. Plus, you spend a large portion of your days with your coworkers. As a result, work is a great place to meet like-minded friends.
So, take yourself a little less seriously and try to have some more fun with your work pals. Of course you need to be sure to attend to all your responsibilities, and you don’t want to distract your friends from their tasks, either. But, there’s no law against having some laughs around the lunch table and finding some enjoyment together throughout the day. It could go a long way toward helping you, and others, to feel happier at work.
7. Let go of perfectionism.
Everything you do at work doesn’t have to be perfect. Do you know that? (Really?) Or, do you routinely take yourself to task over details and aspects of your work that don’t go your way while at the same time neglecting to celebrate your accomplishments?
At the end of the day, it really doesn’t pay to be a perfectionist. If you can take a step back from that kind of pressure, you’ll likely experience some real feelings of relief. Learn from your mistakes. And, see challenges as growth opportunities rather than obstacles. It will go a long way toward helping you reduce your stress.
8. Say 'no.'
Now is not the time to take on a bunch of new projects and challenges at work. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, it’s important to be able to say no when you’re presented with new tasks.
It’s not always easy to figure out how to say no to your boss. But, it’s certainly possible. You might also consider tossing out an alternative. Maybe you can’t complete that assignment, but you can do something else instead. This is a great way to show you’re game to help and participate while also maintaining some boundaries.
9. Get organized.
Refreshing your space, or even just tidying up a little, can go a long way to help you feel less stressed and more in control. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, consider investing some time and energy into your physical workspace.
Getting organized can help to give you a feeling of a fresh start. Whether you do a deep cleaning or just work on neatening your desk, the time you invest now will save you time later. Similarly, taking a few minutes at the end of the day to set yourself up for the following day can be helpful. Putting things away properly and keeping track of objectives and plans by making and maintaining to-do lists can help you stay sane at work.
10. Consider a sabbatical.
If you’re really feeling burnt out at work, to the point that you’re thinking about walking away from your job, you may want to consider taking a sabbatical or a leave of absence. Of course, this unfortunately isn’t an option for all workers. But, if you’re in a position to negotiate for something like this, it’s worth considering. Your boss might rather you take a little time off now than have you throw in the towel altogether a few months down the road.
11. Negotiate for flexibility, telecommuting, etc.
The way we work is changing fast. If you’ve been doing the same job the same way for quite a long time, you might be wise to shake things up a bit. Would doing things differently help you to feel better and enjoy your job more? Perhaps working from home just a day or two a week would go a long way toward improving your work-life balance. Or, maybe you’d like to get to work earlier in the day and clock out earlier too.
Consider about the particulars of your arrangement, and then allow yourself to think outside of the box. Even small scheduling changes can make a big difference in how you work day-to-day and in how you feel. So, before you quit your job, consider negotiating for flexible work options, telecommuting, or any other arrangement that you think might help get you on a better track.
And remember that your work, and your company, benefit when you’re at your best. Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. It’s what’s best for everyone involved.
12. Remember why you're staying.
When all is said and done, there are reasons why you’ve decided to stay in your current position rather than walk away. Keep these reasons in mind as you go forward. They’ll help you to appreciate and enjoy your current reality while you work toward reducing your stress.
Remembering what you value about your job helps you to appreciate it. And, don’t forget to consider the value of your contribution — to your company, your clients and everyone else who benefits from you work. Celebrate your successes and accomplishments. Doing so will help you manage stress and enjoy your job more.
— Gina Belli
This article originally appeared on PayScale.