Why I Quit My Second Job

Setting a boundary of “no” can improve mental health.

Eileen Davis
4 min readMay 10, 2022
barbed wire fence with sign “Boundary Line”
Photo by Erin Larson on Unsplash

Many of us operate on the cordiality principle where we want to please others around us. This desire helps bind us as a community, but can also backfire. We can overcommit ourselves when we won’t say no to another person. I fell into this trap this spring (as I have many springs when my energy returns).

A Second Job

Feeling extra pressure from rising inflation, I applied for a second job at a grocery store. The “Now Hiring” sign advertised up to $15 an hour and a $500 bonus. When I didn’t hear from the store for a week, I increased my hours as a tutor. Weeks later, the store hired me during the interview at $12 an hour and a six-month bonus. I started two weeks later on a Tuesday night. Because I had written my availability before increasing my hours at my tutoring job, they scheduled me for too many hours and at inconvenient times.

I enjoyed working at the grocery store because I socialized with many acquaintances I rarely see, but I missed seeing my children for two days in a row. So I reduced my hours at both my jobs to reduce stress and increase family time. Yet I wouldn’t say no as many people-pleasers do. I wanted to please my coworkers at both jobs to the detriment of my mental health.

Before a Saturday evening shift, my husband and I talked about the impact of working too much when I felt an oncoming panic attack and suicidality. I debated working more, but I had to disappoint others to maintain my mental health. Otherwise, I have no strength to help anyone. Finally, I felt the peace I had prayed for when I made the decision to quit. About an hour before my shift, I handed in my uniform and said I needed to quit for my mental health. The supervisor said, “Okay.”

I still hated to disappoint him.

Do you feel conflicted when you say no, even when it is for your health? Are you overworking yourself to relieve financial stress?

Effects of Stress

I am told to play mother,
Scholar, wife, CEO, or another.
I can’t fulfill all these roles
Without access to all controls.

I cannot rule a boss or a man;
I can only do what I can.

— “As a Woman” by Eileen Davis

In my health coach’s group, we often discuss saying “no” to protect our health. My coach sees too many women gain weight because they stretch themselves too thin. As a result of too much stress, I know women who lose weight too. We learn overcommitting ourselves affects our physical and mental health because of negative stress. The constant state of stress and overproduction of cortisol increases our hunger, headaches, muscle tension, and more. Thus, our bodies and minds need short and long periods of recovery.

And yes, we need to unwind away from electronic devices, which actually stimulate the brain. I have a hard time with this because I still play puzzle games on my phone (but I listen to calming music!). Instead, I need to increase my recovery time. I’ve listed that drawing, stretching, deep breaths, calm music, swinging, and looking at the stars help me destress. I am working on these techniques, an ongoing process.

How has stress affected you? What activities calm you?

A Time and a Season

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…a time to break down, and a time to build up… A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away…a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3, 6, 7

The ancients knew that there is a time and season for activity and rest — that we need moderation in all things. This is difficult in our present emphasis on productivity. But as the seasons change, we need seasons of rest and recovery too.

Particularly, there are times “to speak” no and times to “keep silence” to indicate a no. “No” can be powerful to restore balance in our lives, so we can say “yes” to more important matters. Thus, we will be more present and productive during the important activities.

How do you think setting boundaries by saying “no” will help you?

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Eileen Davis

I love language and believe every word is a poem. I majored in English language from BYU. I am a mom to four rambunctious boys. I have bipolar disorder too.