Overworking to Avoid Feelings


Riya Garg

Almost all of us can agree on the fact that pulling all-nighters after all-nighters can really start to take a toll on our mental health, despite what we tell our moms when they reprimand us for getting just 4 hours of sleep on a daily basis. And at times, the reason behind staying up till 4 am isn’t just finishing that Chemistry presentation due tomorrow. Yes, I can assure you that the entirety of this article will be a long-overdue personal attack for both you and me. We’re going to tackle a topic that must be talked about, especially with how hustle culture is portrayed to teens today. Let’s delve into how we all overwork to distract ourselves from matters that must be discussed. 


Feelings can be tough. The pile of undue assignments can make said feelings even tougher. A lot of us resort to dealing with the pile of undue assignments first and then moving on to the pile of negative emotions that are sitting like anvils on our souls. Channelling all your negative emotions or pent-up feelings into work isn’t uncommon, although it is unhealthy. Many studies have shown that overworking oneself is a common way of dealing with the after-effects of a traumatic event. Throwing yourself into the stack of papers lying on your desk is definitely less emotionally exhausting than experiencing pangs of pain in your chest as you work through grief. Yes, this is the easier route that we are more likely to take but we must realize that even though dealing with emotions can be difficult, it is absolutely essential in order for you to take care of yourself in the best way possible. We must acknowledge the fact that even if crossing an item off our to-do list gives us a fleeting moment of joy, working on ourselves and facing our feelings is better in the long run, though it may not seem like it at the moment. 


It may seem easy to just forget about whatever it is that is bothering you and instead direct all your energy towards getting work done. On top of all of this, social media idolising toxic hustle culture just adds to the problem. Social media portrays getting work done as the new ideal, irrespective of the person’s mental well being. A single glance at your explore page, which is full of people’s achievements, would justify you spending endless hours as you thrust yourself into work. Hustle culture expects you to finish everything on your to-do list and more, even on the bad days. This is NOT the norm and needs to stop being normalized! You are worth it, regardless of how you’re feeling that day. You deserve breaks and love. Yes, working hard is good but you must remember that you always come first. I am, too, guilty of doing this at times but after a lot of thinking and more burnouts than I’d like to admit to, I have realized what my priorities are. 


I saw a post yesterday which said that one can press the accelerator of a car as hard as they want but the car will not move unless there is ample fuel in it. This, in my opinion, is the perfect analogy to describe how toxic hustle culture works. We can put all of our energy into completing our work to get a sense of validation but we will never truly feel fulfilled unless we resolve the matter at its very core.


Now, you may be wondering, “is she just telling us to not work hard?” And the answer to that is absolutely not! I’m sure all of you are working super hard to achieve your goals and I completely support that. All I want to say is that there is a fine line between working hard and overworking. This fine line is one that we often step over without even noticing. Working hard ends with a fruitful result and you beaming from ear to ear. Overworking, on the other hand, leads to burnout and even piles onto any existing depression or anxiety. So, we may, unknowingly, overwork to escape our emotions but at the end of the day, it just adds onto the inevitable torment that we’d face and doesn’t actually reduce the chances of us having a breakdown (yeah, I know. Hit me hard too).


How can you get away from the dangerous grasp of this toxic culture of overworking our young and feeble minds? The first step is to acknowledge your feelings - both good and bad. Give yourself enough time to fully digest these feelings. Don’t be afraid to feel, no matter what that “motivational” Instagram page says. Once you’ve acknowledged your feelings, don’t be afraid to get help. There are multiple people you may reach out to - friends, family or a therapist. Now that you’ve made sure to not dismiss your feelings, how do you make sure that you don’t get pulled back into the vicious cycle of overworking yourself to the point of burnout? Something that worked for me, and may work for you, is making a timetable. Maybe try setting aside certain hours wherein you do your work. With everything being online, it can be hard to separate your personal and professional lives, and if you’re someone who uses work as an excuse to avoid emotions, it can be even messier. So, you can try to follow a schedule so that you can set aside time for self-care. Self-care can be anything from taking a nap to watching your favourite show  or even just going out for a walk. Boundaries are super important, even with yourself. Remind yourself that you are important and more than your work and set boundaries. You deserve to be treated like royalty and the first person to start doing that has to be you! 


Lastly, remember that social media is simply a highlight reel and everybody has their bad days. It is quite literally IMPOSSIBLE to be productive 24/7 and I just wanted to tell you that I, Riya, am super proud of you. So keep going and hustle (while taking care of yourself too!) Don’t forget to prioritize yourself because you are worth it and go get more sleep (how very mother-y of me, I know I know). Anyways, the personal attack ends, goodbye :p