Burnout is not a new concept. It is a real mental health term, a product of overworking ourselves which is, unfortunately, a norm we tend to accept. This could be due to the fact that we find our identities intertwined with how much money we make and constantly keep ourselves distracted.
There is no shame in slowing down. In fact, the pandemic forced us to sit down and as parts of the world are reopening, it is important to pay attention to how speeding up makes us feel. However, the pandemic also caused confusion around the boundaries between where work starts and stops. Without a commute or strict guidelines put into place in a new virtual work sphere, it was difficult to navigate, to say the least. Although at times it can feel good, hustling also requires us to sacrifice a lot of our time. As a result, this produces a lot of stress. The culture is work hard, play hard, but is there actually a balance between the two?
Society is plagued with this toxic lifestyle. By toxic, I mean toxic in every sense of the word: “containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation”. Data shows that hustle culture is costing lives. Data revealed by ABC explained that the World Health Organization revealed, “working long hours led to 745,000 deaths from stroke and ischemic heart disease in 2016”. It’s not an issue you can accept or ignore without consequences. It also reduces levels of productivity making your work schedule less efficient and manageable. Furthermore, this can lead to collective failures in the work environment.
Amidst the pandemic, many people quit their jobs because due to being burnout. Burnout is a growing issue that is impacting more businesses as it ceases the energy of workers everywhere. This leads to more stress among workers as well. And this will only continue the longer it is not addressed within the workplace, “while the self-help industry and employers may place the blame on the individual, experts say it usually has more to do with the workplace than a specific employee.” As burnout makes employees less productive, it would make sense that the company culture could eventually become more demanding and less rewarding.
Even when we try to relax, it is extremely difficult sometimes without feeling like we are wasting time. It’s interesting to digest this kind of topic because it may seem paradoxical. The point of hustling is to get as much work done as you can. However, eventually stress levels reach a point where its, cognitively, very difficult for you to do so. Not to mention, this does not always lead to reward. Hustle culture gives us false promises. It tells us that if we work as hard as we can then we will reap the benefits from external rewards.
Leisurely activities that we love to engage in serve as medicine for when our brain is overworked. Our brains no longer reach the same dopamine levels because our expectations are unrealistically high. It becomes harder to reach our goals the more burnt out we are. Our brains need the rest and the play to function at its best. And, yes, it is possible. It takes discipline to work hard, however, it also takes discipline to create a routine for yourself that prepares you for a productive day. By productive I mean energized, motivated, and rested.
It can be extremely difficult sticking to a routine after being used to overworking yourself all the time. You are more than your work. By taking time to make these changes and listening to your body, work can be more efficient and impactful.
These issues will ultimately lead to an unfair and stressful workplace where results decrease and work intensifies. Yes, employees need to practice self-care, but there needs to be changes within the workplace so this cycle stops perpetuating itself. Plus, when we do we can be more productive and less stressed. Hustle culture, the pandemic, and social media added onto pre-existing mental health concerns we already had. It’s time to slow down and give ourselves a break without any shame.