Have you ever woken up and immediately started doing so many things at once – whether it’s checking the news, brewing some coffee while changing clothes, or running out the door with only a granola bar because you don’t have time to make breakfast? Have you boasted to your friends/family members that you are productive, always working without a break in your day? Have you worked so much in a day that when it’s time to go to bed, you fall asleep as soon as your head touches the pillow because you’re so exhausted? If you have said yes to any of these questions above, you may be a victim to hustle culture.

So many people, including college students, suffer from hustle culture and of trying to be as productive as they can be during the day that they, ultimately, forget about their mental health and stability in light of whatever is going on in their lives. Endorsing great mental health is crucial for college students to succeed in college, as negativity and hopelessness can impede a student’s will and success to do well in their classes, internships, and more.

In today’s blog, I will be discussing what is hustle culture, how over-indulgence can become detrimental to our minds and bodies, and ways to combat the toxicity of hustle culture.

First, let’s start by defining what is hustle culture. Hustle culture is a concept that embodies the idea of constantly doing something – where one is devoting most of their day to working (or hustling). Your mind is always running in overdrive, whether it’s at work, at home, at coffee shops, you name it. Living in a society where we are equipped with resources that can help us work anywhere, it’s quite easy to lose ourselves in the commotion and the craziness of our daily lives. Your brain becomes wired to always be thinking, to be churning out ideas after ideas, even if you are tired and exhausted. Many companies and workplaces support the idea of hustle culture without realizing that it can take a mental toll on their employees.

The basic tenets of hustle culture (steadfastness, drive) can have positive effects on many people who utilize this properly. However, the problem doesn’t lie with the basic tenets, but merely the opposite – overindulgence. Rather than achieving your tasks with the mindset of fulfillment, one is merely executing these tasks simply because committing to intensive work will achieve the notion of being productive… when in reality, it’s quite the opposite.

Trying to drown yourself in work just to be working isn’t the goal that you should be striving for. If you follow down that path, you will be yearning for the weekends, dreading Mondays simply because you have to begin this cycle all over again. Instead, try to have a different perspective on how you accomplish your tasks. For example, if you are constantly overworking yourself on the weekdays – attending classes, working at your part-time job, squeezing in homework and studying in any spaces in your schedule – you will, ultimately, attain burn-out. When that happens, you will lose motivation to be productive because you’re so drained that your mind can’t cope with any new information. To avoid this from happening, give yourself a few breaks throughout the day. Don’t work while eating lunch. Give yourself the brief interlude halfway through your day to enjoy your lunch and meditate. It really can do wonders.

So, the next time that you are feeling worn-out, try to think whether you are embodying the idea of hustle culture. Hustle culture isn’t a bad thing, but if we aren’t giving our bodies and minds the break that they need, it can become destructive to our mental health, in the short run and in the long run. Remember, productivity is less about what you do with your time. It’s more about how you spend it, and ultimately, learn from it.