Let this Memorial Day weekend be the start of your rest revolution.
Hustle and grind, right? Hustle culture. Work hard, play hard.
Workers in the United States have a unique relationship to work. Many of us can get away from the daily grind, and yet we choose to work ourselves to death. We’re wedded to the bootstraps method of building wealth, but it turns out that not resting could affect your bottom line more than working that extra shift.
Resting is a revolutionary act that can transform your health and your business, and there’s more at stake than a few missed hours of sleep. Learning to recognize the signs of stress, burnout, and sleep deprivation could be the difference between a successful venture and a business model doomed to fail. However, this isn’t the usual advice of avoiding hustle at all costs. The best thing you can do for yourself is to discover your natural hustle and rest rhythm and use it to your advantage.
Grind Culture and the New Economy
Stress isn’t all bad. Those jitters you feel just before you speak to a crowd may actually help improve your performance. The pressure to complete a massive project in time for a deadline could hone your sense of creativity and productivity. The purpose of short term stress is to heighten our senses and give us boosts of energy designed originally to keep us alive in the wild.
When stress becomes a way of life, however, it turns from a temporary boost to something sinister. Our stress response is designed to be self-limiting, i.e., when the threat passes, our system returns to normal. In our modern work life, it can be challenging to know when the danger has actually passed. For many of us, our stress system is always “on.”
Chronic stress leads to chronic conditions. We develop anxiety and depression due to lack of quality sleep, altered gut health, and out of whack hormones. Our heart suffers because of raised cortisol levels. We alter our digestive health by overeating sugar in response to fatigue, which in turn makes fatigue worse and becomes a vicious cycle. We suffer from brain fog, lapsed memory, and cognitive impairment.
Our work-life balance bears a lot of the blame. More employees are reporting checking their email during vacation, logging on to work activities after 11pm at night, and a whopping 81% said checking email on the weekend was standard in 2013. It hasn’t gotten any better. We used to leave the office at 5pm and now, with internet connectivity, some of us never leave at all.
Ironically, freelancers and gig workers often take this type of work in response to workplace burnout caused by that stress, but end up heaping on more. With grind culture being the norm not only for startups, but also for gig workers, freelancers, and the self-employed, many experts predict the United States is headed for a mental health crisis (if we aren’t already there).
Balancing Rest and Productivity
We know. You think you’ll put in more time, and your business will grow, but it turns out that time has diminishing returns. The more you ignore the needs of your body and mind to rest, the less likely you are to be able to accomplish your goals.
In a study done in the United States, employees that put in more than 50 hours of work per week did not actually reap any benefits from those extra hours. Once you reach about the eight-hour mark over your typical work week, you won’t get more done. You’ll only be more stressed.
To take advantage of your body’s natural stress boost to spur productivity and innovation, you have to know when to turn off and turn on that response. Rest can be a revolutionary part of how you operate your hustle and could help provide the boost you need.
“Balance” doesn’t necessarily mean you flatline your passion. There will be times when you’re in the flow, and you stay up late to finish a project. That’s not unhealthy. However, you need to provide yourself equal amounts of rest. If the only way your business is sustainable is a constant state of hustle, you could have a serious problem on your hands.
Utilizing The Hustle Involves Rest
It’s essential to understand your non-negotiable business tasks and your non-negotiable life tasks. Once you get clear on what those are, it can be easier to identify what’s important versus what’s just urgent.
Ask yourself a few questions:
What is the one thing I need to do that makes everything else in my business easier? Do I have to do this myself?
What is one thing I need to do in my personal life that makes everything in my life easier? Am I making time for it?
When do I find work most comfortable to complete? For example, I sometimes procrastinate tasks until the evening, but once afternoon passes, I’m highly unlikely to get anything done. If I want to work, I need to carve out the morning despite what my procrastination tells me.
When am I consistently busy in my work? In my personal life? If there are natural patterns to your work and personal life, make them official and work in the flow.
Honor Your Balance
This isn’t about hating the hustle, and this isn’t about feeling guilty for your Netflix binge. The rush of the hustle isn’t something you have to ignore in the name of balance any more than ignoring email for an afternoon will tank your business. For many of you, balance won’t look like a flat line, and that’s ok.
Work in time for your flow and time for your rest so that you lower your chances of developing chronic health issues from an overactive stress response, and learn healthy ways to cope with your stress when you do experience it. In fact, this memorial day could be the perfect time to reevaluate how you work and play.