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November's Reflection: Burnout and Quiet Quitting

It's not you, it's them.

It's another Monday back on the grind - the weekend was spent ironing out Thanksgiving logistics, putting up the first of the winter decor, bickering about who cleaned the dishes last, and texting your boss your holiday schedule. By the time the short holiday week even rolls around you are pre-exhausted for what's to come and the pile of work you already know you are going to have to tackle over the weekend to make up for enjoying the thanksgiving holidays with your friends and family.

Then you pause, reflect, and realize you've been exhausted for a while. Has it been days? weeks? months? What's happened?

Your sentiments are real, and collective, with nearly 40% of the workforce expressing burnout.

How Did We Get Here?

Home boundaries are being put in a blender and dumped out across our houses: from COVID woes, WFH work, managing grief, absurd political polarization , growing family duties, and minimized personal care... 40%+ of us are experiencing the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual effects of burnout daily.

"Quiet Quitting"... About That

According to Investopedia, the term “quiet quitting” refers to employees who put no more effort into their jobs than absolutely necessary.

Sounds like... a normal employee doing their job?

Quiet quitting is the arch nemesis of "hustle culture," which refers to the practice of working as quick and productively as possible to (hopefully) receive a raise, get a promotion, rapidly learn a new skillset, or drive bottom line growth for themselves or their employer.

In a competitive & capitalistic system, hustle culture is clearly the preferred working style of employers that are interested in maximizing output while keeping costs (salaries) as low as possible, but at what cost to employees? Employees are not guaranteed any of the benefits listed above, but the threat of possible losing their job keeps them from backing down on the "hustle" work style. The last year has allowed space for many employees- mostly Millennials and genZ'ers- to come together via social media and encourage one another to put their emotional needs first, rather than the needs of their employer first.

If one cannot generate energy within the working environment - through better benefits (PTO, healthcare), flexible working options, increased pay or promotion, and/or healthy work-life balance, then they must seek a regeneration of energy outside the workplace. This may include a combination of meditation, therapy, setting relational boundaries, taking up new hobbies, engaging in wellness treatments, holding space for fulfilling conversations, or traveling.

However, during COVID many of these external practices and routines for gaining energy and fulfillment were taken away (in-person yoga classes, book clubs) or dramatically changed (teletherapy, online happy hours). In addition to the significant shifts in routines and hobbies, many saw a dramatic rise in their screen time, which has shown to directly impact psychological wellbeing, including a decrease in emotional stability.

So, as humans do, we evolved. If we couldn't generate energy in the same ways as before and bring that into our working environment, and our working environment was not creating new ways for employees to sustainably feel energized at work, then we did what we needed to do: less.

Many took a step back, weighed out what necessary tasks they could perform at work to conserve their diminishing energy reserves, and they acted on that path so as to avoid a mental collapse.

Is "quiet quitting" really just a term used to describe employees optimizing their energy to accomplish the necessary functions of their jobs? If so, isn't that... optimal from a human standpoint?

So...those ridiculing others who have chosen to work in such an optimal fashion out of energetic necessity, are actually advocating for the over-expenditure of one's reserves for an unguaranteed return on (energy) investment.

When put like that, quiet quitting sounds completely...normal.

Back to Burnout and What You Can Do About It

Not everyone's burnout options are the same. With a tightening economy and layoffs on the rise, the job market is shifting to an employer's market; due to diminishing supply of available jobs, employers hold greater leverage than job-seekers do. During COVID, the job market was a seeker's market; job-seekers had more leverage due to an increase in demand for labor. Over the next two years some jobs will have more benefits and stability than others-some jobs will remain in high demand-and some jobs will not.

Some of the following products, services and suggestions may not be applicable to your specific situation, and we at REESHI want to be mindful and hold space for that. Perhaps this blog post is here to remind you that you are not the problem, and that your burnout is tangible and supported by evidence; maybe these written words helped you process why you shouldn't feel guilty about looking on job boards after work and/or not going above & beyond for your employer.

If you have the means, here are some REESHI recommendations for addressing burnout:

  • Physically- plan out three, 25-minute meditative walking sessions per week where you check-in with yourself, reflecting on how you feel and what you want from the 25 minutes. Begin each walk with ten, slow, deep breaths, and complete your walk with three statements of self-love, such as: "I am worthy. I am in control. I am able."

  • Mentally- if your job is not providing a healthy space for you to explore yourself professionally, and the high-ups keep dismissing your attempts to set clear boundaries, begin thinking of companies or organizations you would like to work for based on their greater mission, their positive working environment, and their overall benefits package. Then begin to build connections with others at that company and explore the "open positions" page on their corporate website. If you are able, consider taking time off to focus on hobbies you love, such as spending time with family, writing poetry, playing music, or baking.

  • Emotionally- connect with others who have your best interest at heart- people who feel joy when you succeed professionally and personally. This may be a group of friends you met in a social media group, a professional networking group, and/or a trusted therapist or counselor. Don't be afraid to locate the roots of your pain or anxieties - you are capable, and in control. If you are feeling anxious or uncertain on how to begin a sensitive conversation with a friend or family member, we love these meaningful connections conversation cards by SPARK.

  • Spiritually- consider attending a weekend or week-long spiritual retreat that focuses on a particular element of your wellness. We love this intimate, play-forward Costa Rican wellness retreat that includes yoga, chasing waterfalls and surfing as part of retreat goers daily ritual. If you are seeking wisdom regarding a major life change, consider a psychedelic retreat for total mind body immersion. If a retreat is not accessible for you, look into free meetup groups focused on spiritual development in your community or local volunteering positions. You can also develop a positive journaling practice using these 15 prompts is also a wonderful free resource.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing intense bouts of mental unrest, please feel encouraged to call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).


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