What Is 'Quiet Quitting,' And Can It Really Help Your Mental Health?

If you've read the news or been on social media lately, you've probably noticed people talking about a recent phenomenon known as "quiet quitting." Essentially, the practice of quiet quitting is meant to reverse and prevent the burnout associated with constantly going above and beyond in your professional life (via The New York Times). It has been ingrained into many of us for generations that in order to be a "valuable" employee, we must consistently say "yes" to doing extra things, whether that means staying late, starting early, or taking on tasks outside of our job description, all without proper compensation or recognition. 

In response to this culture, especially in light of the hyper-stressful post-pandemic world in which we all seem even busier than we ever were before, people are feeling exhausted and burnt out. When we give, give, give, at work, we find we don't have enough left for our families, our hobbies, and ourselves. Enter quiet quitting.   

What does quiet quitting actually mean?

For people who don't want to or can't leave their stressful jobs, quiet quitting offers a middle ground solution. Essentially, what it means is that workers simply stop constantly going above and beyond their job descriptions and let go of the guilt that can sometimes come with doing that. It's about creating healthy boundaries in your professional life so that you can create better balance in the rest of your home, personal, and family life (via The New York Times). 

No one is suggesting you should fall down on your job and stop doing essential tasks required of you, as that would jeopardize your employment; quiet quitting simply means giving yourself permission to not fall victim to the toxic corporate culture that inspires workers to sacrifice their physical and mental wellbeing in order to do things they aren't even being paid to do, like take on extra projects, start early, or stay late on a consistent basis. This might mean something like not answering emails or chats outside of work hours, or not volunteering to take on tasks outside your pay grade.  

Are there really benefits to quiet quitting?

With this trend taking social media by storm and plenty of people talking about it, experts are weighing in to asnwer a fundamental question: where it comes to improving life balance and mental health, is quiet quitting actually working? 

"Quiet quitting is about a conscious effort to uphold our wellbeing in the way we work and to become more boundaries in line with our developmental needs, rather than risk burnout through working long hours or defining ourselves simply through our work," Dr. Kordowicz tells Very Well Mind

Psychologist Lee Chambers tells Healthline that quiet quitting "has the potential to improve boundary setting, as well as helping people step away from toxic productivity," thereby preventing or healing burnout and exhaustion. Chambers cited a 2021 study published on PsychNet that explored how healthcare workers could prevent and cure burnout in the face of the pandemic, saying that boundary setting was essential. He feels the same principles can be applied across sectors and types of employment. 

So in short, while "quiet quitting" is a new term and not many studies have been conducted on it yet, what experts know about burnout and the necessity for a well balanced life and strong boundaries at work supports the idea that quiet quitting is indeed good for mental health.