At precisely 6:30 a.m., you wake up. You check your phone for messages and rise out of bed to get ready for work that day. While on your commute to work, maybe you check your emails and eat a quick breakfast because you didn’t have any time to do so at home. Right before work, you stop by a coffee shop and order a steaming hot cup of coffee to last the entire work day. You go to work, do what you’re assigned, and attend some meetings. At 5 p.m. you get off work, but work still follows you. In your free time at home you are constantly scrambling to meet deadlines. When you are finally able to sleep, you wake up again to the sound of your alarm and repeat the same jam-packed schedule as yesterday.
This is what hustle culture looks like: a constant social stress on work and productivity. Everyday, there is an emphasis on what more work could be done and how fast can you get it done. You try to catch a break from time to time, but it is exhausting. This sort of “workaholism” culture has been normalized in our generation, and hustle culture promotes the lifestyle of putting work above everything else. Through this idea, people believe that in order to achieve their goals and dreams, they have to overwork themselves to the extent of burnout.
The Toxicity Behind Hustle Culture
The common phrase “rise and grind” can easily be applied to what hustle culture is today. The constant need to overwork yourself can lead to harmful effects including stress, burnout, and other damaging mental health issues. When working tirelessly for long durations of time, stress builds in your body. This results in the release of the stress hormone cortisol in higher amounts (Headversity). The excessive amount of cortisol in your system can lead to burnout. If you are burnt out, you no longer have the motivation or drive to continue working. Other side effects of high amounts of stress include anxiety, depression, heart disease, memory impairments, and more.
In addition, research shows parallels between increased stress levels and decreased work productivity. When you are only focused on mindlessly getting the most amount of work done, you will start to hate what you are doing. Your personal well-being is no longer your top priority. You start skipping meals, losing sleep, and ignoring the time that is needed to take care of yourself. This could lead to a downward spiral that would only hurt the quality of your work. On the other hand, there is a positive association between your well-being and productivity. When you are comfortable, relaxed, and enjoying the work that you are doing, you will produce quality work. In actuality, hustle culture impairs your productivity.
Hustle Culture Effect on Youth
At a young age, you are taught to plan for the future. Students just like you are constantly working on our grades, extracurriculars, volunteer work, and more. Every student has heard of the notion that the more work you do, the better college applicant you will be. Students drown themselves with work hoping for a chance to be accepted into their dream college. This idea has become so normalized that the term “#hustle” is commonly used as teen slang to describe how busy life gets. People strive for a number on a piece of paper at the expense of their mental health, social life, and even learning.
It is so important for you to have a work-balanced lifestyle. Hustle culture has turned people into working machines. We are human and we need time to focus on ourselves and the people and things we love. Life is precious. Take the time to slow down, relax, and care for yourself. Remember why you are working, because that’s what matters at the end of the day.