By: Leah Hovey
We see the posts on social media, all of the “how to” videos, the messages about the “grind” and the various blogs telling you that you are not living up to your potential if you aren’t working hard every single day.
There is an ongoing trend in social media right now that pushes the expectation of a non-stop constant work ethic. For example, this could be a full-time post secondary student who is working two jobs, at a co-op placement, working out everyday and managing family expectations. When parents, family members or old friends ask how this student is they respond with "busy." There is nothing to look forward to, just continuing to work for a better future.
This constant pressure to work hard, and romanticizing this constantly busy lifestyle is taking over. It seems like we are trying to compete for who is the most overworked, the most exhausted, and the one who has the most packed schedule. There is a certain pride when an individual talks about how busy they are and how little they sleep. It’s a competition of who can work the hardest. There is an expectation to push oneself to their limits leaving very little time, if any at all, for self care.
This ideal we all are trying to strive for is severely unhealthy and can be detrimental to one's mental health. While working towards your goals is definitely a good thing, we have to remember that overworking oneself is not healthy. This is pushing yourself to a breakdown which will ultimately hold you back from success. We work better and more efficiently when we take care of ourselves.
Research has indicated that work success is heightened when full-time employees have very flexible vacation times, are able to take breaks throughout their workday and they have the ability to manage their workload (Albrecht et al., 2017). Overworked individuals have a higher chance of stress-related symptoms and mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety and feelings of inadequacy in their everyday lives (Kuroda & Yamamoto, 2018).
So why do we take on so much? We know we need a break, we know this type of behaviour is not good for us but how come we are willing to put so much pressure on ourselves for the sake of societal pressures? I asked myself this question knowing that I constantly overwork myself. If I am being honest I am afraid to look lazy. I think that is something a lot of us can relate to. Most of us compare ourselves to our peers and see how successful, busy and hardworking they all are, especially on social media where you see the highlights of everyone’s lives. So of course this makes us want to work harder. There is nothing wrong with a good, hard working attitude and ethic, but we need to take a moment to realize there are only so many hours in the day and not everything can be accomplished. Leaving time for self-care is extremely important as we need to remember that we will preform better if we have time to ourselves. Spreading ourselves too thin can impact our work performance. This is why self-care is needed.
We need a different social media message. We need to push self-care. ‘Grinding’ is fine but let's aim to also find time to take care of ourselves so we can perform to the best of our ability, because that is even more important. I challenge everyone to post one Instagram, Facebook or Twitter post about how you took time this week to focus on self-care. I know I will be.
Albrecht, S. C., Kecklund, G., Rajaleid, K., & Leineweber, C. (2017). The longitudinal relationship between control over working hours and depressive symptoms: Results from SLOSH, a population-based cohort study. Journal of affective disorders, 215, 143-151.
Kuroda, S., & Yamamoto, I. (2018). Why do people overwork at the risk of impairing mental health?. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1-20.