It’s great to be motivated. It’s even better to have goals and ambitions with the drive to reach them. However, there is a fine line between being a hard worker and overworking yourself just for the sake of overworking yourself. Recently, there has been a rise of “hustle” and “grind” culture amongst Millennials and Gen-Z. These generations feel an intense need to impress others with how much more work they do than their peers. Many teenagers and young adults are working themselves to the point of exhaustion, all in the name of hustling.

What is Hustle Culture?

Hustle culture is a lifestyle where one puts work above all else in order to earn the respect of others. The day is measured in productivity and achievement. It has become socially acceptable, and even celebrated, for young people to work more, sleep less, and rarely have time to themselves. In the world of hustle culture, sleep is for the weak and leisure time is equal to laziness. It has become commonplace to be a work-a-holic and run on nothing but coffee. Every day is a #riseandgrind moment where every minute is spent working. 

What Does Hustle Culture Look Like?

Now that I have explained what hustle culture is, you are probably curious to see what it looks like in action. Here are some examples of how hustle culture plays a part in our society.

Hustle culture is encouraged by everyday people to the world’s most influential businessmen. 

A 14-year-old boy was being praised on facebook by his own father for working every day at Burger King and shaming the boy’s counterparts for “enjoying their summer”. Instead of this young boy enjoying his childhood, he is spending his youth working hours upon hours, most likely to make his father proud. 

Elon Musk, a figure many aspiring entrepreneurs look up to, also endorsed hustle culture by notoriously tweeting “…nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week.” Musk and many other businessmen perpetuate the unhealthy standard that working long hours with little to no breaks is the only way to be successful and make an impact.

How the Pandemic Has Contributed

Social Media Pressures

You would think that living through a pandemic would have been the perfect time for people to allow themselves time to rest. However, I remember specifically during quarantine the pressures of “staying productive”. If you weren’t creating a small business, doing Chloe Ting’s workout everyday, or learning a new language, you weren’t doing quarantine right.

Working From Home

Life pre-covid was easier for working people to differentiate between work and home life. Now with the rise of remote learning, zoom meetings, and working from home, there is no distinction between work and leisure time. The office is now right in your living room. For many, there is no more 9-5 and coming home for a glass of wine. It’s easy to say, “just 5 more minutes” when working on something from home. And those 5 minutes turn into hours of working instead of sleeping, eating, and relaxing.

The Consequences of Hustle Culture

The whole point of hustle culture is to achieve success and promote productivity. However, it does not even seem to achieve its own goals. Hustle culture promotes unhealthy habits, overworking oneself, and decline of mental health.

The consequences of burnout include:

  • Burnout 
  • Depression
  • Anxiety 
  • Insomnia 
  • Reduced quality of life 
  • Disconnection from reality
  • Poorer work quality

Combatting Hustle Culture

We have all at one point most likely fallen into the trap of hustle culture. From the outside, the lifestyle seems appealing. However, these tips will help you find that having a healthy balance of work and leisure will yield better results than working every waking moment of the day.

Work-Life Balance

Allow yourself time to rest. Your body and mind need time to recharge in order for you to produce the best work. When you are done at work, leave all that stress at the door. And if you work from home, set aside strict work hours and adhere to them (for example: work hours are from 8am to 3pm on Mondays through Fridays). Spend your time off with family, friends, sleeping, and indulging in stress-free hobbies. Time to yourself is not time wasted.

Quality of Quantity

Putting in excessive hours during the work week may seem great at face value. But, constantly working only leads to poorer quality work, tedium, and eventual burnout. Strive for efficiency rather than working every minute of the day.

Reward Yourself

Your hard work should not go unnoticed. When you reach a goal or accomplish a day’s work, allow yourself to indulge. Grab a treat at the nearest fro-yo shop with a friend or take a relaxing bubble bath. Participation in hustle culture comes from the need of outside validation. Though it is a great feeling to be recognized by your peers and higher-ups, that should not be your only source of validation. When you feel you have achieved something, reward yourself!

If you find yourself participating in hustle culture, try reevaluating what is important in life. Of course hard work and perseverance is not an inherently bad thing. However, when your mental health is compromised because you are overworking yourself, something has to change. It is okay to take breaks and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Need help keeping a positive attitude? 

Listen to entrepreneur and podcast host, Kenneth Brady, share how he navigates staying positive during tough times on the Positive AF podcast with Dez Decosta.

Curious about self-therapy? 

Listen to journalism student, Sofia Serrato, use her creativity as a form of self-therapy in the Positive AF podcast.

In need of healing? 

Listen to Morgyn Danae share her holistic methods of healing on the Positive AF podcast.