“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” ~Audre Lorde
When you hear the word “productive,” you likely think of something positive: busting through that work assignment, making your house sparkly clean, or crushing your hobby.
It is the goal of everyone to be productive. We strive to achieve something on workdays as well as our free time.
Hustling and grinding are seen as admirable.
When we don’t succeed, we feel guilty and may even try to drag ourselves off of the couch in order to get more productive. We feel if we don’t complete all of the tasks, we’ve failed. We set crazy high expectations for ourselves then hate ourselves when we don’t meet them.
How would it look if you took a step back? How about including rest into our daily practice?
It seems we’d fall apart, we’d become piles of mush, not contributing to society or our own lives. This is bullsh*t. Toxic productivity grinds us down, not forward.
We are unable to live a happy life, and to take a break every once in awhile because we have to work so hard.
I’m not saying that all productivity and hustle are bad. I’m saying the culture around needing to be a robot of a human, producing 24/7, is what gets us into trouble.
I’m guilty of it myself. After graduating college, my first major girl job was working for an IT start-up. Twenty-three was a big age for me, and I wanted to take on so much responsibility. So I put in all my effort to prove that I was capable.
The “work hard, play hard” culture was pushed at my job. We had bean bags to sit on, a snack area with avocados, and a pingpong table. Who needs an apartment when you’ve got everything at work?
It was the way I thought. It was my way of life. I worked late at night, early in the mornings, and drank a lot. The Saturdays were almost too cool for me to work in an office.
One of my coworkers slept in the office several nights per week. We all thought she was crazy, but I wasn’t far off.
A gazillion hobbies were added to the work I did. My hobbies included blogging, hockey, volunteer work at my meditation centre, twelve-step meetings and dating.
It never stopped. When did I rest? Never. Rest was reserved for the wicked.
It all eventually caught up to me when, one dreary winter evening, I sat in my therapist’s office sobbing about how I didn’t want to be alive anymore. It had become too difficult for me to keep the flame at both ends lit.
My entire life was thrown into chaos when I was taken to the mental hospital. Two weeks had passed since I was placed in an institution. It took me two weeks to start to think about my future.
“Is this what I want for myself?” I thought. “Can I even keep going like this?”
No. It was not possible to sustain the work I did and my life style. I couldn’t keep “yes-ing” everything and everyone.
Someone had to step in. With no way to cope, I was at my wits end. My only choice was to quit my job, and to let my body heal.
For a year, I didn’t work a full-time job. I was completely unaccustomed to it. I was privileged to get on disability and was able to take the time to pick apart my life to find what wasn’t working.
Toxic was the constant need to do something. I was unable to control my perfectionist nature and a constant desire for excellence.
Instead, I found rest. I know I’m privileged in this because not everyone has the same chance to do such a thing. Others are forced to work 40+ hours per week.
Yet, even though I work full time, am in graduate school and have several hobbies, there is still some space to rest. It is vital to my well-being.
This is done by allowing myself to do absolutely nothing on certain days of the week. You are free to do what you want: read, nap, watch TV, or lay down in the grass. It doesn’t matter how productive you are for a while.
In addition to giving myself an entire day I also try my best to find moments throughout the week when I can take a deep breathe and just be. Whether that’s getting up for a stretch or walk from my work computer or cuddling with my roommate’s cat for a moment, I enjoy life.
Life isn’t just about how much I can produce. It is important to be able to relax and enjoy the short time that I have here on this planet.
To get rid of the toxic culture of grind work and productivity, I recommend that you examine your entire life. These are the questions you should ask yourself:
- Are my boundaries being pushed?
- Can I have too many dishes?
- What am I doing to myself?
- Which are my priorities?
- Which places can I get more rest?
Have a good look at what you do in your daily life to see where it falls prey to toxic productivity. But don’t be overscrupulous! It is important to look, and not scour.
You can now make informed decisions about whether you want to include rest. The only way to escape this mess is through rest. Sometimes my productive brain even tells me, “If you rest, you’ll be able to work harder!” Maybe, but that’s not the point.
We need to recharge. There’s a reason why we sleep almost a third of our lives; we need the respite. You can see that working out requires one to take a break in order to recover.
Our bodies are sending us cues left and right that it’s what we need to do, but we often don’t listen until it’s too late and our gauge is past empty.
You don’t need to wait until you’ve been hospitalized to rest. It’s possible to choose this option today in any increment that makes sense. I promise it’s worth it.
About Ginelle Testa
Ginelle is an avid wordsmith. Ginelle Testa is a queer woman whose interests include sobriety recovery, social justice and body positivity as well as intersectional feministism. You can often find her thrifting and practicing Buddhism, as well as in recreational street hockey. She can be found at www.ginelletesta.com
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Feeling burned out? Meet Toxic Productivity & Grind Culture with Rest appeared first on Tiny Buddha.