This article is part of our partnership with experts from STYLE Canada. Today’s post is by Amanda V. Taylor and explores the impact of hustle culture on our mental health and solutions to feel better.
Even during a pandemic, hustle culture is alive and well in 2021. With unemployment and loss of income affecting our mental health, the idea of staying productive is trending and the popularity of self-care products continues to rise.
What is hustle culture?
Hustle culture champions the notion that we always need to be working harder, smarter and faster to achieve success. Every minute that isn’t spent working towards a goal is a minute wasted. These days, everyone is an entrepreneur, aspiring entrepreneur or side-hustler.
Millennials are all about owning their narrative, carving their own path, and rejecting the rigidity of traditional nine-to-five jobs that previous generations coveted. From day one, a “you can achieve anything you set out to do” attitude has been ingrained in their minds. As a result, this generation who is trying to reach their own (high) expectations has established hustle culture as a value system. Millennial worth is measured against what we can deliver, not who we are, setting the stage for a very stressful environment that is only made worse by current circumstances.
Social media and hustle culture
Though many of us are currently struggling mentally and financially, we are still expected to optimize every moment of the day and are subsequently judged by our ability to do so. Jen Kirsch, a celebrated relationship columnist from Canada, relates this to the comparative effects of social media:
“We have a much more captive audience on social media than we’ve ever had before. We’ve had more time to watch and be influenced by what we think we should be doing by comparison.”
Is self-care the solution to hyper-productivity?
In the tireless pursuit of achieving our goals and keeping up with our peers, we eventually face burnout. Being “on” at all hours of the day takes a toll, increasing our stress levels and dramatically reducing our productivity.
More and more indulgent and expensive luxuries are now branded and marketed as “self-care” and presented as ways to bring relief. In fact, #Selfcare is one of the most popular hashtags on Instagram with 32.2 million search results, and the self-care industry is valued at more than $11 billion. We use self-care products and services to overcompensate for the exhaustive nature of hustle culture and alleviate the stress associated with a non-stop lifestyle.
Balancing Realistic Goals With Wellness Practices
Sure, meditation apps, expensive bath bombs and lavish designer purchases can help, but actual self-care encompasses more than that. Hustle culture promotes its lifestyle to excess, which can have toxic effects on mental health. Achieving goals is important, but it is just as important to be patient and kind to yourself in the process, and that is what actual self-care is about.
Below are 8 ways to successfully check off your to-do list while staying healthy:
Practicing self-care doesn’t require you to spend money. Try spending at least 10 to 30 minutes a day meditating instead. Find a quiet place to sit each morning and focus solely on your breathing. Over time, this will train your brain to focus on positive and productive thoughts.
2. Focus on 3 goals
Setting too many goals will overwhelm you, deplete your resources, and waste your energy. Focus your efforts on 3 and map out what actionable steps you can take each day to bring you closer to them.
3. Don’t compare yourself to others
You don’t know what people are really going through. Hustle culture is performative and displayed on social media, but it is not an accurate indication of the work or success people have actually achieved. The only person you should be comparing yourself to is you.
4. Know when to say No
Only say yes to opportunities that align with your goals and happiness. Do not waste energy on projects or meetings that won’t serve you. Politely declining an opportunity won’t deter someone from coming back to you with another proposal.
5. Set your own hours and plan ahead
Studies have shown that we’re only productive for roughly three hours of the regular eight-hour workday. Instead of trying to be productive for long periods of time, work in intervals of two and a half hours. Plan out which tasks you’re going to tackle in advance. Optimize the energy you have and conserve the energy you need.
6. Eat and sleep well
We know it seems obvious, but how many of us actually get the rest and nutrients we need? Eat your greens, don’t consume too many processed foods, and try to get an eight-hour sleep in as often as possible (if you struggle with that, we have tips for you here and here). More importantly, don’t beat yourself up if you have an off-day.
7. (Occasionally) treat yourself to some retail therapy
Indulging too often puts a strain on your financial security and by extension, your mental stability. However, ensuring that you’re not depriving yourself from things you really want has been proven to lift your mood. So, treat yourself! Sometimes.
8. Be patient and manage your expectations
During the pandemic, it’s important to understand that everyone’s timeline has been disrupted and trust the process. If you set out to achieve your goals and take baby steps toward them every day, you will get there, even if it takes a little longer.