Work Guilt and Burnout: Let's Talk About it
Hustle culture has shifted the motivating and passionate mentality about work to one of stress surrounded by mental burnout
As a current high school student I attest to the fact that I struggle with school-work based anxiety, creating boundaries between work and rest, and overall stress.
Hustle culture rewards productivity, while resting and boundaries have been mislabeled as laziness and selfish behavior—making people feel bad when they try to take reasonable measures to protect their mental health.
According to Noelle Leonard, PhD, a senior research scientist at the New York University College of Nursing (NYUCN), "There is growing awareness that many subgroups of youth experience high levels of chronic stress, to the extent that it impedes their abilities to succeed academically, compromises their mental health functioning, and fosters risk behavior. Furthermore, this chronic stress appears to persist into the college years, and Leonard warns it may contribute to academic disengagement and mental health problems among emerging adults."
Rest and boundaries are not earned by your production, but are tools to help you thrive.
As difficult as it can be to divide your personal time with the college applications, hard classes, internships, and work in general, you need to set boundaries for your own benefit.
In the long-term, it’s important to deepen your relationship with rest. In the meantime, adding breaks to your to-do list can help you ease into this new behavior and give you a familiar sense of accomplishment when you check it off the list.
It is human to stress and feel that you must be working at all times to be "productive", but what is not talked about enough is the important of rest and recovery.
The more stress you build on yourself and time you take away from your true passions, relaxation, and mental rest, you will find yourself stuck in a deep hole of burnout. In this burnout black hole, your thoughts will become so consumed with stress, no work would even get done anyway. Set realistic expectations for what you can accomplish in a day and be willing to say no to additional responsibilities if necessary.
Let’s be real: Setting a couple boundaries here and there won’t magically erase the guilt that you may experience from rest. You can’t wish it away, but you can consistently work every day to better yourself and prioritize well being. Soon enough, you will be able to create a healthy balance between work and rest.
If taking breaks, creating boundaries, or prioritizing your well-being is new behavior for you, keep going despite the guilt. Change takes time. Time can make way for change.