notes work stress mental health

No pain, no gain. Lunch is for wimps. We sleep when we’re dead. Hustle culture can be truly toxic.

Do you feel like you’re constantly at work? Is that because you’re expected to work longer hours; continuously hitting new and more inaccessible targets? 

Are you prioritising work over your personal life?   

It sounds like you’ve fallen foul of hustle culture: the institutional belief that you should prioritise work over everything else. 

Hustle culture is toxic, and long-term exposure can be damaging to our physical- and mental health. 

In this article, we’re going to examine the phenomenon of Hustle Culture. 

And perhaps things will ring true. Maybe you’ll recognise it in your own work environment. It’s never too late to make some positive changes.

What is hustle culture?

Hustle culture is nothing new, and it has been damaging lives for many years. 

It started in the decadent 1980s, where the general population was encouraged to work hard and expect high returns. “Greed is good” became a common mantra. 

Hustle culture is the collective urge to work excessively; to be better than everyone else, and work longer and harder to be at the top of our game. It creates an environment of ruthless competition, encouraging us to clamber over each other to get to the top.

Hustle culture thrives on peer-pressure and absolute compliance to organisational priority. We judge ourselves by the standards of our peers, and we often behave ruthlessly to remain competitive. 


This toxic culture makes it impossible to win because the goalposts are continually moving. Whatever we do – however we prioritise our work over our personal lives – it’s never enough. 

We’re made to feel that if we aren’t playing the hustle game, we’re undeserving of success. 

Or even worse: that we’re inadequate. 

Let’s take stock

At some stage, it’s useful to ask yourself:

  • Has work become more important than your personal life?
  • Are you actually achieving your goals?
  • Are you living for work? Or working to live?
  • Are you happy?

What are the side-effects of overwork?

Working hard is different from overworking, and it’s crucial that we recognise the difference. 

Working hard is good for our self-esteem; it’s good for our sense of worth and our position in society. 

But overwork – eventually – affects all aspects of our lives, with adverse outcomes for our mental- and physical health. We suffer socially, emotionally, and spiritually. 

Work occupies your every waking hour and your “to-do” list entirely dictates your time. 

Eventually, this state of constant tension renders you incapable of making simple decisions. You become irritable when things don’t go according to plan, but you dare not relax. Overworking becomes normal: your peers work long hours, so the same is expected from you.

Working towards your goals is a good thing, of course. 

But where do you draw the line?

Am I working too much?

You might find yourself operating on autopilot; automatically doing things to please others at work (but you’re likely to be neglecting the needs of your social circle). 

You might be focusing on developing work relationships; only to find that those connections are shallow and conditional. 

When work dictates our lives, we miss out on the moments that really matter: the time with friends and family; those are the memories that we’ll look back on and cherish.

So, if you feel like you’re living to work (rather than working to live), take a moment:



Think about the things in life that DO make you happy. 

Centre yourself with “C” words

Stop thinking: “I should”. Should is a guilt word. 

Instead of saying “I should” or “I must”, try telling yourself “I did it to the best of my abilities”. 

Centre yourself with “C” words: calm, clarity, confidence, curiosity, compassion, creativity, connectedness, and courage. 

Take some time out

If you’ve found yourself trapped by hustle culture, it’s time to take stock and consider what you really want. 

Focus on your health and the things in life that satisfy you (they’re usually the simple things, by the way). 

Make some decisions, and reset your priorities and goals.

In the words of Kurt Vonnegut: 

Enjoy the little things in life; for one day you’ll look back and realise they were the big things.   

Make your priority your mental health. 

Easier said than done

Of course, this is often easier said than done. Perhaps you need to address the roots of your stress. Maybe it could be helpful to speak to someone who can help you unpick the complex web of decisions to help you move forward. 

This is what SupportRoom is all about: hooking people who need some therapeutic support with qualified therapists, experienced in helping clients make challenging life decisions. 

Accessible through your smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer, SupportRoom’s innovative platform provides ongoing support; for as long as you need it. 

We’re here to help right now. Remember, you’re never alone. 

Talking helps. 


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