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I’m a recovering perfectionist who used to participate in the hustle and grind culture.
Or I tried to, but due to its highly consuming nature, I found myself desperately looking for ways to take a step aside, set boundaries, and find pockets of peaceful moments in between the hustle.
I might be a little traumatised by my working life and I’ve been close to burning out several times, but I’ve also learned my lessons around boundaries and the importance of rest.
In Psychology Today, PhD Bryan E. Robinson describes the grind culture (also known as hustle culture or burnout culture) as a phenomenon where people put their work and achievements above everything else. People participating in the grind culture are constantly running against the clock, multitasking, always available, always busy, and doing something productive.
I’ve always considered myself a woman of common sense; I have little tolerance for bullsh*t, and my self-awareness is at a rather high level. But still, I fell prey to this culture. On some levels, I bought the idea that by working my ass off and repeatedly going the extra mile—regardless of my well-being—I can prove my worth and feel important.
I guess I was hungry for external validation and thought I’d receive it by being part of the hustling club, only to learn that the “good feelings” followed by the grind-related validation never reached my soul but took a high toll on my well-being instead.
Rest is the new black
Sometimes we need a good amount of suffering before making the necessary changes in our lives. I had my share, and as a result, I quit my job and started a completely new journey on my own as a freelancer and explorer. In this journey, I’ve started to cherish rest and prioritize my boundaries and healthy habits.
Many of us struggle with external demands, stress, and busy schedules. We are programmed to believe that we are only valuable if we are constantly producing, achieving, or available for everybody. I’d really like to challenge that belief.
We are valuable as human beings, and taking care of our well-being is a service to ourselves and everyone around us. Developing healthy habits and setting boundaries have improved the quality of my life, so I thought sharing some of them could be of benefit.
Sacred morning routines and heavenly naps, why not?
I appreciate my time off, which means that I pretty much never read work emails during my holidays. To be honest, I’ve had this boundary since the beginning of my career. That was my way to resist the grind culture even when I was part of the problem.
I have minimized all my notifications on my laptop and my phone to cherish my focus time. I need to be able to decide when it’s the time to check my mailbox or social media.
I try to avoid the sense of urgency. I often take my time to answer emails and messages if they are not urgent. We live in a time where almost everything is labeled as urgent. Most things aren’t urgent (unless you work in an ER or a nuclear plant), and the ones that are, are often a result of bad planning. I’ve become allergic to urgency, especially when it’s used disrespectfully to roll the responsibility of bad planning onto someone else’s shoulder.
I also love to be unavailable in the mornings. I switch my phone to flight mode every night for about 30 minutes before going to bed. In the morning, I take about an hour to do my morning routine before switching my phone back on.
Mornings are sacred for me, and my routines are a high priority. I either write my morning pages or do a 30-minute silent meditation; often, I do them both. Sometimes, I do yoga if I feel like it. Having time to connect with myself and set the tone of my day has made a big difference in my life.
I’m also a huge fan of napping—a great habit that my parents have taught me. A 15-20 minute power nap is on my schedule nearly every day. I go to my couch and set an intention, which is always the same: rest. I often get into this yummy relaxing state where my consciousness is drifting between sleep and being awake. It feels like being in a deep, relaxing meditation, making my nervous system hum in gratitude.
Other things I try to drop into my days in appropriate amounts are exercise, time in nature, and healthy meals. I don’t skip meals unless I’m fasting. I’m never too busy to eat. After lunch, I might take a walk or do a 20-minute TRE practice. I like to play with my days and have enough space for flow. This way, I can tune in and listen to my inner guidance about what needs to be done next.
There are also a few habits that don’t take much time if I’m extremely busy. One of them is paying attention to my inner talk and always trying to talk to myself kindly. Another one is saying no. It takes only a second and can turn the course of your day, week, or your whole life.