Is Hustle Culture Hurting You? Here’s How to Break the Grind
This, in essence, is the infamous hustle culture. It echoes how trading our sanity for success is the ultimate heroic path. But while rewards and recognition sit at the finish line, so does a burnout. And many don’t see how it impacts their mental and physical health until it’s too late (1).
This unforgiving grind has become so ingrained in our culture: 84% of people in The Finery Report’s survey see working overtime as the norm (2). And six out of 10 people reported feeling guilty for not putting in extra hours. It shouldn’t be this way - so let’s discover how we can reclaim agency and design a fulfilling life without burning ourselves to the ground.
What is Hustle Culture and How Does it Impact Your Health?
Hustle culture is the romanticization of overwork and sacrificing wellness for success. It has been glorified on social media and perpetuated by the rising side-hustle economy. More so, technology and the growth of virtual work have made it much easier for people to do extra work per day. But what’s the cost of wearing workaholism as a badge of honor?
Overworking increases the risk of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and burnout (3). The lack of sleep that comes with the hustle disrupts our ability to recover from the demands of work (4). All of which lead to poorer quality of life and work disability. Plus, when people are constantly stressed, they’re paradoxically impairing their productivity (5).
The psychological stress mentioned above also heightens our risk for cardiovascular issues and other chronic diseases (6). Working 12-hour shifts, regardless of the time of day, results in a 37% increase in the risk of workplace injury (7). People are also more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, over-consuming alcohol, and overeating.
Four Ways to Break The Hustle
If you find yourself trapped in the hamster wheel of exhaustion and overwork, here are a few things you can do today to peel yourself away from the hustle:
1) Understand why you’re overworking
Diligence is a valuable trait. But it turns into an unhealthy pursuit when we’re taught to associate our work ethic with our entire self-worth. And it doesn’t help when celebrities and Silicon Valley CEOs shame the working class for not working hard enough (8,9).
The urge to constantly be working can also stem from childhood or job insecurity. These factors may lead individuals to feel like the hustle gives them a sense of control. Whatever it is, the first step to overcoming the hustle is to first understand where it’s coming from. Only then can we begin to unlearn the beliefs and behaviors that don’t serve us.
2) Redefine your needs and values
We easily lose touch with our own needs and values with the media flooding us with images that glorify overwork. To break free from workaholism, reflect on what you’re told to want versus what you really need. For instance, you may be doing extra work for extra cash or credit at the expense of lost sleep. While these routines are alright in the short run, prolonging them may do you more harm than good.
Remember, true success is more than getting more money or a promotion at work. It’s more than about achieving certain things by a certain age. Success is also taking care of your health, it’s being present with your loved ones, and it’s giving back to your community.
3) Create a “log off” routine
Especially if you’re working from home, you need a clear cut-off routine to help make that mental switch. While it’s tempting to push through a 16-hour workday, it leaves your brain in a constant state of fight or flight and causes prolonged spikes in stress hormones like cortisol.
Find an activity that helps you transition into wind-down mode. This could be a walk, a shower, or a meal. Even if you don’t log off at 6pm, take an hour or two before bedtime to disengage from work mode. This helps beat the overwhelm caused by the body’s stress response. Ultimately, a “log off” routine ensures you get a restful night's sleep and reset before the next day.
4) Say ‘no’, seek help
Guess what: You don’t have to say ‘yes’ to everything. Grind culture convinces us we need to do everything and make it work. But true productivity is about working smarter while being intentional about how you want to spend your time and energy. You may:
Reduce the number of projects you take at one time
Delegate the housework between you and your spouse
Turn off email and text notifications after work
Communicate workload capacity when tasked to do more
We know it’s easier said than done, especially if we’re used to over-extending ourselves all the time. Hence, it may help to consult a professional to analyze any behavioral patterns stopping you from choosing what’s good for you.
Remember, the chase for success shouldn’t come at the expense of your health. Hustle culture may convince us that we're meant to burn the candle at both ends to “make it” in life. But pushing yourself to the edge of exhaustion isn’t the way to go either.
It’s okay to slow down and pursue your own definition of success at your own pace. After all, we can only show up our best, for ourselves and for others, when we learn to nourish ourselves from the inside out.
Read other Mental Wellness Related Resources:
- How Do We Balance Multiple Roles in Life Without Burning Out?
- Stress Management: Is your stress helping you or hurting you?
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Sleep deprivation, vigilant attention, and brain function: a review | Neuropsychopharmacology
Long Working Hours and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease | SpringerLink