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The Tussle with Hustle Culture at Work

Updated: May 15

“Inspirational” short-form content will have you believe that you need to work for 15 hours a day, work out for 8 hours, and work on a side gig for 5 more hours. Every time a deep-faked picture comes across our feed, we constantly remind ourselves that not everything on the internet is true. However, when a 22-year-old posts a picture online with their Lamborghini, we forget to remind ourselves about the same.

This materialistic chase for a made-up goal has given rise to the infamous Hustle Culture that is plaguing Millennials and Gen Z. As cited in a research paper, Rozentals defines it as the belief that your success depends on the hours you’re willing to put in and the sacrifices you’re willing to make.

Hustle Culture: The Epidemic

Hustle Culture promotes pushing your limits and maximizing every moment at work for optimum efficiency. The existing social structure further strokes the fire, discouraging resistance to directives from superiors. Pretentious influencers also promote the idea that hustling leads to luxurious living, and the workers who have bought into this mindset eagerly flaunt their achievements.  

Working nonstop to reach a certain level of success has been glorified to a point where the ones taking a break to regroup end up feeling guilty for not being productive 24/7. It is completely understandable to want to work hard for your goals, but do not make it your only goal.

Hustle Culture: The Effects

If you expected people to connect the dots that working at the expense of mental health would lead to a decline in the well-being of the employees, get ready to be disappointed. A survey found that two-thirds of the participants view hustle culture in a positive light, suggesting that they believe in the notion of working to the bone in the name of capitalistic gains and goals.

The normalisation of hustle culture and the constant pressure can trigger anxiety in the work environment, thereby making it an unfavourable place to be employed. It's important to remember that employees are human beings, not just assets of the company. When they're burdened with excessive workloads, it doesn't just decrease productivity; it also takes a toll on their mental health..

A study by Deloitte found that 83% of their employees and 74% of their executives were finding it difficult to achieve their mental well-being goals, with 30% of them attributing this difficulty to the heavy workload of their stressful job, and 27% of them attributing it to the long hours that they end up working. Well over half the employees and executives were facing mental health issues and fatigue, which goes to show the evidence of the negative effects of hustle culture.

Hustle Culture: The Cure

It is not natural for human beings to be under such immense amounts of stress for such extended periods. Your brain is not meant to be under the constant flow of cortisol, the stress hormone.

To rid yourself of this hustle culture, you need to be kind to yourself. This kindness comes in many forms, including setting realistic standards. Holding yourself to unrealistic expectations is a level of perfectionism that is unachievable. Accept that you are a regular person who is bound to make mistakes and do not take any mistake too personally.

Personal and professional boundaries need to be established too. Learn to say no when things get overwhelming. Overburdening yourself with tasks at work will neither do justice to those tasks nor you. Refrain from regularly entertaining work requests at unprofessional hours too, because that sets a precedence that your me-time is non-negotiable.

Realise the importance of work-life balance. Surrounding yourself with work-related thoughts and activities does not do you favours. Take time to unwind and engage yourself in hobbies or social events. Relaxing with loved ones is a popularly endorsed way to melt away the woes of work and nurture your mental health. Pursuing hobbies also gives a sense of satisfaction that soothes the mind.

You should also change your outlook on “rest”. Understand that you should rest when you feel that your body requires it, not when you think you have earned it. Your body needs to have its necessities met, and making yourself earn the rights you are born with puts the body through unnecessary hardships

What good is receiving bouquets every time you achieve something big, if you never have the time to stop and smell the roses? Slow down, and appreciate the journey. It is easy to get lost in the rat race of life, but, after all, you know what they say. The early bird gets the worm, but the second rat gets the cheese. 

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