Many of us find ourselves in a revolving door of hustle and grind. School, work, life, repeat. There’s often little priority given to resting because rest can be seen as lazy and unproductive. But, research suggests that isn’t true. Just look to nature – even the trees and the plants and the soil and the animals take breaks to be the best that they can be. Yet, in the middle of an on-going pandemic, we continue to grind – but as the great Nap Bishop Tricia Hersey says – “You are not a machine. Stop grinding.”
What if instead we dilly-dally, daydream, rest, and play more?
Why the Grind Needs to Stop
Well, simply: We. Are. Burnt. Out.
85% of college students report being overwhelmed by everything they had to do at some point within the past year. 1 in 3 working adults feel burnout in the workplace. And for what? We lose $500 billion each year in lost productivity and 550 million working days due to stress on the job. It’s such a problem that the World Health Organization officially included burnout in its International Classification of Disease.
Our productivity doesn’t go up when we grind either. In fact - we are more productive when we rest. When we give ourselves a chance to slow down and take a break, our brains are sharper, we’re more creative, get more done in less time, make better decisions, prevent illness, and are able to review and reflect on our days. And, even if our productivity did go up when we were grinding - our pay hasn’t gone up, so why are we doing it if we haven't seen a return on investment?
How to Stop Grinding: Finding Balance to Avoid Burnout
One of the best ways we’ve found to avoid burnout and find balance in life? Set boundaries - with your friends, family and yourself. It can be hard, but with practice you will make time to: engage in self-care, find enjoyment, spend time on hobbies, connect with friends, get some exercise, sleep a little (or a lot) and so much more.
So, how do you set boundaries? Here are few tips:
- Seek help . Reach out to those that can help, including professors. They can give you tips for succeeding in their courses.
- Conduct a personal audit of situations, times, or people that cause you stress or anger. This helps you recognize these circumstances in the future so you can be prepared and have strategies already in place to help you cope.
- Choose and set clear limits for yourself. Many times the people that cross our boundaries the most are us. It’s vital that you determine what goals or activities are most important to you (like rest, exercise, family, cooking meals, getting good grades, etc) and keep them at the top of your priority list.
- You should communicate your boundaries with those around you, particularly those that are most likely to cross them. And, it’s important to let someone know when they’ve crossed one of your boundaries when they do it.
- Practice saying “no.” No’s tend to be super hard for people to say. So it’s important to practice saying no in low risk situations - like getting a coffee for example. When they ask if you want whipped cream with that…. no. Practice in front of the mirror - wherever, whenever so when you really want or need to say no you can.
- Use the 4 D system. When you make a to do list, determine if you are going to do it now, defer it to another time, delegate it to someone else (like if it’s a group project or if you’re in a student organization, etc), or drop it - and just decide it’s something you don’t have to do at all.
- Finally, prepare for pushback . People don’t often get told no or have people enforce boundaries (because we’re pretty bad at doing it as a society). So, know that others will likely react to you enforcing boundaries - this just means the boundaries were necessary. (Also, don’t forget, you are most likely to step over your own boundaries so be prepared to keep setting boundaries for yourself!)
Keep Pressing Pause
Our societal culture of hustle and grind is why Recreation & Wellness created the Press Pause campaign for Winter 2021 – a gentle reminder to give yourself a break. Remember, that it’s okay (and vital) to rest. Even a five minute pause in our days can lower our heart rate, loosen our muscles, increase immunity, improve sleep and digestion, and elevate our overall well-being. The semester is coming to an end and we know that stress and burnout will be even more pronounced. So, plan time to press pause and honor your boundaries. And - don’t forget to keep pressing pause into the spring and summer.
Wishing you a day (month, year, life) full of daydreaming, dilly-dallying, resting, playing, and contentment.
Want to learn even more? Request a WIT presentation about Finding Rest in the Grind.
By: Katie Jourdan, Student Health Promotions Coordinato