Are Stars “Quiet Quitting,” Too? Demi Lovato and Others Show Us Everyone Should Prioritize Health
Demi Lovato announced that “Holy Fvck” will be her last tour. In an Instagram Story posted on Tuesday, the 30-year-old singer wrote from her hotel room, “I’m so f*cking sick I can’t get out of bed.” While Lovato has yet to share more details on their current state of health, they made the decision pretty clear. “I can’t do this anymore. This next tour will be my last. I love and thank you guys.”
This kind of representation — that an icon who so many people look up to can walk away from a draining work environment — gives hope that maybe, just maybe, so can you.
Lovato has released eight studio albums and also done eight tours, and her health has noticeably suffered. In 2018, Lovato had a near-fatal overdose followed by three strokes and a heart attack. Of course, fans were upset by the tour news, but they reacted with understanding and sympathy. One Twitter user wrote, “if tour has to end then it’s heartbreaking but we DONT ever want a repeat situation of 2018.. demis happiness and health is the most important thing to us.. the music is everything but them as a happy functioning healthy human living being means more .. demi lovato we love you.”
The announcement follows a recent pattern of performers — including Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, and Jonah Hill — who have canceled tours or stepped back from the spotlight to prioritize their health. This is happening at the same time that trends like “quiet quitting” make the rounds, which emphasize enforcing a more sustainable work-life balance.
Are we finally seeing people — both celebrities and “normies” alike — step away from hustle culture? POPSUGAR spoke with Trey Tucker, LPC, a licensed therapist who works with music artists, actors, and professional athletes, to talk through the benefits of seeing this play out in the public eye and how to practice putting our well-being first.
Fame Comes With Some Unique Mental Health Struggles
It seems celebrities are increasingly willing to make career sacrifices in order to address their mental health. “They’ve been hustling with the belief that ‘I’ll be happy when I reach the top of the mountain,’ but when they get to the top of the mountain, they find out it was a bait and switch,” Tucker says. Being famous doesn’t automatically make you happy. “If you ask famous performers like actors and musicians, they’ll tell you privately that almost everyone in their industry is depressed, has anxiety, or both, and I’ve noticed five main reasons for this.”
While they don’t all apply to everyone, below are some common root issues celebrities struggle with, according to Tucker. (And the reality is, even if you’re not famous, some of these struggles may feel relatable regardless.)
- Achievement vs. Fulfillment. They’ve worked incredibly hard and achieved the career success they wanted, but it didn’t fulfill them. “It didn’t bring the joy, satisfaction, and meaning they thought it would,” Tucker says. “It left them empty, with a thought like, ‘Is this all there is?'” Depression becomes almost inevitable when that realization happens.
- Identity and Value. “Before they achieved their success, they didn’t develop a sense of self-worth, so the role they play as an actor or musician temporarily becomes their identity and source of validation,” Tucker says. Therefore, as long as they’re in their character or on the concert stage, they feel significant — even loved, at a superficial level — and they escape the insecurities and uncertainties for a while. “So the performance becomes a drug, and they only feel like themselves, truly alive, when they’re performing,” he adds. But when the show is over, they crash back down to reality. “That can become a deadly cycle, and the artists who realize that often decide to step away from it and do the inner work to grow and get healthy.”
- Pressure. Nothing is ever “good enough” in their industry; therefore, it’s difficult for the person to feel good enough. “The record company always wants the next album to top the success of the previous release,” Tucker says. “The movie producer needs the actor to propel the movie to an even bigger box-office total than the one before.” There’s also the weighty pressure of comparison to their competition.
- The “Why.” They’ve lost their “why” — their reason for doing what they do, or their “why” wasn’t a healthy, fulfilling reason in the first place, and that fact finally came to the surface. “Especially once they’ve reached a certain level of fame and financial success, they no longer feel challenged,” Tucker says. “Creative people, especially, need challenges to stay inspired and motivated to keep growing.”
- “Yes Men.” Celebrities often end up surrounded by people who need them and the financial benefits they provide. “It creates a power dynamic where the people around them don’t have the position or the courage to tell the celebrity the hard truths they need to hear,” Tucker says. “It creates an isolation effect where the celebrity has an ‘entourage’ but has no one who’s a true peer to speak into their life.”
But Celebs Are Stuck in This Burnout Loop Right Here With Us
Our favorite artists have worries, insecurities, pain, and arguments with loved ones just like we do. “They have dating conflicts, tension in their marriages, children who stress them out, and work-related pressures and expectations,” Tucker says. Except for them, they also have to stay “on” constantly. “Their bodies stay in a fight-or-flight state because they know people are watching, videoing, and potentially scrutinizing their every move.” Tucker also notes that celebrities tend to have a disproportionately high amount of childhood trauma — something Lovato has spoken about in the past. Of course, celebrities generally have more resources at their disposal to deal with these things, but the takeaway is this: celebrities are human, too, and no one is immune to burnout. Not even them.
Recently, the pushback against hustle culture has materialized into that trendy TikTok term: quiet quitting. The idea is to do your job but resist the pressure to go above and beyond — especially when it would mean blurring your work-life boundaries. And while this is the newest nickname for what many people are feeling, it’s just another iteration of what we’ve been seeing the last couple of years via the “Great Resignation,” the “Great Reshuffle,” and general “working is soul-crushing” complaints. Before the pandemic, we may have embraced being a “girl boss,” but COVID-19 has gotten more people thinking about their priorities and the fragility of their health. Many people who put their lives on pause during lockdown (celebs included) are finding it harder to remember why we were OK with running ourselves into the ground before — and blatantly refusing to do it again now that life is “resuming” once more.
Ultimately, hustle culture isn’t altogether negative; it’s just selling us the wrong idea, Tucker says. “Reaching any worthwhile goal takes incredible amounts of hard work and sacrifice,” he says. “But the myth is that a meaningful life is waiting at the end of that path of hustling. We need to build a meaningful life from the inside out. Then we can start to hustle from a foundation of fulfillment and joy rather than seeking it from the external success we crave.”
What We Can Learn From These Celebs About Prioritizing Our Well-Being
It’s easier to prevent burnout than heal from it. “Catch it early by regularly taking what I call the ENP test: Energy, Negativity, and Productivity,” Tucker says. “If you’re consistently feeling a lack of energy, negative or cynical, and less productive (even when well-rested), you’re heading toward burnout.” Reorganize how you spend your time so it reflects your values. “Start with small changes at first, so you’re more likely to follow through, and prioritize people and activities that recharge you rather than drain you,” Tucker emphasizes. It also requires healthy choices in three areas of self-care: sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Tucker likes to use the analogy of a stool with three legs: if one leg is out of balance, the whole stool can collapse.
Putting your needs first is especially challenging when others are relying on you. (Bieber and Mendes canceled world tours with over 70 shows still left to play. That’s a lot of disappointed fans.) Setting boundaries also takes practice, which is why it’s so uncomfortable at the beginning, but it’s worth it if it allows you to put your health first — and that’s something we’re glad to see Lovato and others set the stage for (no pun intended). Yes, celebrities typically have the privilege to walk away from the income that comes from touring. Yet this kind of representation — that an icon who so many people look up to can walk away from a draining work environment — gives hope that maybe, just maybe, so can you.