• Kristen Balisi

Why It’s Time to Put a Stop to Hustle Culture

Now more than ever, we live in the golden age of workaholism. Making every second count, being continuously productive, and ensuring "the grind never stops" has worryingly become the new unrealistic expectation countless people are striving to reach.


Say hello to hustle culture: a mindset, philosophy, and life embraced by many. It involves working non-stop and abandoning all aspects of an appropriate work/life balance. Hustle culture is not sustainable, and this is why it needs to stop.


What is hustle culture?


Similar to workaholism or toxic productivity, hustle culture refers to a fixation with putting maximum exertion into your work and transforming a healthy work/school-life balance into an extreme work/school-only lifestyle. It originates from a culture that applauds and rewards productivity, which in some cases can be a great thing, but becomes detrimental when we fail to realize where to draw the line. This way of life does not care if you miss meals, sleep, or other important events. Instead, it is an obsession with work or study. Only more matters, regardless of the quality. For many, this inclination to be productive or busy can become overwhelming to the point that we begin to attach our self-worth to the amount of work we are completing.


These supposed “motivational” quotes represent hustle culture. Quotes such as “I’ve got a dream that’s worth more than my sleep” seem inspiring at first but can rapidly turn damaging and drive readers towards adopting dangerous behaviours.


While this stream of affirmations and reminders to seize new opportunities can inspire students, does hustle culture do more harm than good?


Although attaining goals involves working hard and completing our tasks to the best of our abilities, hustle culture produces a toxic environment where people are influenced and pressured to work without stop. Yet, we must recognize that as human beings, we all come with physical, mental, and emotional limitations. Remember to take time for yourself and define clear boundaries between school, work, and your personal life. Treating ourselves with the kindness and care we deserve plays a crucial role in leading happier lives.


How does hustle culture pose hazardous threats to our well being?


  • Hustle culture sets up unsustainable expectations


Hustle culture places unrealistic and unsustainable expectations upon society. If we put all our time and effort into work or study, no time would remain for self-care. Studies have shown that working overly long hours results in poorer mental health and increased anxiety. The ensuing chronic stress, insufficient amounts of sleep, and lack of social support offer our work performance no benefits.


Ultimately, no matter how hard or effectively we work, we are each given 24 hours a day and cannot create more time. For every task we complete, we must simultaneously give up the chance to do something else. Therefore, by persistently allocating our time towards work-related activities, just as hustle culture preaches, we give up the time to do something else that could have been more beneficial or rewarding in terms of our well-being.


  • Encourages an unhealthy lifestyle


Lack of sleep among Canadians is reaching alarming epidemic levels, and hustle culture further exacerbates this problem. When consistent obstacles to deep, peaceful rest occur, this sleep deprivation negatively impacts the brain and cognitive function. Our bodies can only handle so much before we give out. Also, the ceaseless drive to work more can lead to unhealthy eating patterns. Seeing as junk and fast-food options are more efficient than cooking from scratch, more people turn to these foods, regardless that these more convenient choices are significantly less beneficial for our bodies. Poor eating habits can cause issues such as malnutrition and lack of energy. Alongside healthy eating, physical exercise is another victim of hustle culture. Canadian adults are spending nearly 10 hours of their waking time sitting and being inactive.


Neglecting basic human necessities such as eating, sleeping, bonding with friends and family, and other obligations are not worth the stress, anxiety, and fatigue that comes with overworking.


  • Can lead to burnout


Incessantly working without allowing our bodies to recharge takes us on a path that most often leads to burnout. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive stress. It can leach any semblance of motivation and makes working or functioning in daily life a taxing task. Burnout is by no means uncommon, with 95 percent of Canadian workers stating that they are at least somewhat burned out. Twenty-seven percent of Canadian workers also claimed to have high to extreme levels of stress daily. Altogether, pushing ourselves to the point of giving out is a tendency that is becoming toxic and impeding our ability to reach our goals.


In closing, it is no surprise recent generations have confronted more burnout and mental illness than ever before. From a young age, parents, guardians, teachers, and role models teach us that hard work equals success. As a result, most of us have internalized this idea that we should be working all the time. In truth, it is not a lack of determination or perseverance that acts as a destructive issue here. It is unhealthy perfectionism and difficulty providing ourselves with the rest we need that inevitably serves as our downfall.


Yes, long hours and hard work are beneficial and can be required in some situations to accomplish our tasks. Nevertheless, it is time to realize that if we wish to win the marathon of success, we must pace ourselves. Temporary success in school or work is not worth the sleepless nights, the lack of social life, the anxiety, and the burnout it causes. Instead of spending all our efforts trying to be successful in one area of life, we should strive to be successful in all aspects of our life. That includes our health, our relationships, and our careers. After all, what is the meaning of life if we are not dedicating time to the things that bring us joy?