Toxic productivity culture causes additional stress

Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

By Angelina Herrera

Nearly 60 percent of workers in an American Psychological Association (APA) study reported negative impacts from work-related stress which include lack of interest in the job, lack of motivation, or lack of energy and effort at work. Others reported brain fog and emotional exhaustion.

Students feel similar stress and anxiety. Without the added pressure of a job or a mortgage, teens reported to another APA study that their stress levels were similar to adults and higher than what they believe to be healthy.

Part of this comes from our toxic productivity culture. While being productive is of course beneficial as it helps to get work done, having to be productive on a daily basis can become an obsession, resulting in the productivity culture being toxic. Toxic productivity is a drive to be productive not just at work but in all aspects of one’s life.

When a person feels the need to be productive all the time, it can result in losing balance in the separation between one’s personal life and work life. In these cases, self-worth starts to be defined by how productive a person is even during rest times. When engaged in toxic productivity, people have unhealthy habits of being unable to draw boundaries and take time to relax.

Social life and mental health decrease dramatically when someone craves being in a state of productivity all-day, every-day.

“Toxic productivity takes the joy out of everyday activities and causes you to push yourself too hard for too long,” according to Caeleigh MacNeil from Asana, a work management platform. “In the long run, this can lead to burnout, depression, and other physical and mental health consequences.”

Your social life is also in jeopardy when being productive becomes toxic. Since you are constantly on the go, your social life decreases. When you don’t catch up with friends and family as often and don’t make the effort to just explore and recharge your social battery, that is when being productive has become toxic.

“Relationships with friends, family, and spouses may suffer because of your overextended schedule…. Being pulled in multiple directions by your obligations can leave you feeling stressed and unable to engage fully in your relationships,” Jodi Clarke from Very Well Mind said.
Socializing requires you to be engaged and aware. Relationships with friends or family can suffer if you are only thinking about work. When thoughts of work or school take over your social life, this is a sign that your productivity has become toxic.

Even your physical health can be impacted by being overworked. You can develop health risks such as sleep deprivation.

“Occupational burnout results from chronic work-related stress with physical symptoms such as exhaustion, complete energy depletion, stomach issues, and headaches,” Geraldine Walsh from the Irish Times said.

In the long run, in order to prioritize mental health people need to seek some form of relaxation to combat the constant state of working endlessly. For a student this might look like taking a walk between homework assignments or asking for an extension when feeling overwhelmed.
Left unchecked, this toxic productivity culture could jeopardize your mental health, resulting in depression or burnout. A short walk or dinner with family seems like a small change to be able to maintain a healthy attitude.

Your self-worth is not defined by the amount of work you can complete in the time that you have. Don’t let the toxicity of the productivity culture control your own life and make you lose balance of when to draw the line of your personal and work life. Being productive is necessary at times, just not at the expense of when it defines your life.

Author: Plaid Press

Granada Hills Charter High School newspaper