How the Hustle is Hurting Your Health
Hustling is the name of the game in today’s society. If you’re not striving for something, you’ll be left behind.
But what does that mean for those of us whose body’s respond to every stress and strain, and every extraneous “yes” instead of a “no, not today”?
For most people, these worldly achievements (like chasing a promotion, doing charity work on the weekends, or staying out late with friends) serve them well, with little to no downsides.
However, when you throw chronic illness into the mix, what works for most people tends to not apply anymore.
In my seven years of having an autoimmune disease, I’ve learned one very important thing: my disease is a gauge that tells me how well I’m taking care of myself, and let’s me know if I may be striving just a little too hard.
And, the harsh reality of this condition is that when I’m hustling like society tells me to, my health and wellness go downhill pretty darn fast.
I’ve learned that I have to be okay with saying no, and content with just resting when everyone around me is achieving.
It’s not an easy reality to come to grips with. We live in a society that tells us our worth and value comes from how much we get done, or in what ways we can contribute.
So when pushing myself mentally and physically causes symptom flares and ill health, I have to ask myself if I’m okay with not living up to society’s standards of what makes me successful.
I know that my body is way more sensitive to stress, a poor diet, not enough sleep, and too much activity than an average person’s.
And with that knowledge, I’ve been able to use my autoimmune disease to tell me when I need to start slowing down. Anytime I feel my digestion start to slow, my stomach start to hurt, or my sleep quality start to suffer, I know to look at my life and my current choices first, and everything else second.
And yes, sometimes I want to push through and tell myself that I can handle that extra hour at work, or going out on a Friday night. But, I’ve made those choices in the past, and more often than not they begin to lead me down a path of worsening health.
Now, all of this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t live your life and strive to do things if you have a chronic illness. Of course I want to encourage you to enjoy events and have goals, but I really want you to take a step back and figure out where those goals are coming from.
Are they based off of society’s standards of who you should be and what you should be accomplishing? Or are they things that will actually make you happy and bring you fulfillment and contentment in your life?
For example: I was offered a promotion at work last week. It was to fill a recently vacant Lab Manager roll - a position that I told my boss a few years ago was one I could see myself enjoying and wanting to pursue.
And here it was, this big promotion sitting right in front of me. Everything that my American dream fulfilling self could have asked for - a nice raise, a more challenging job, a chance to manage and mentor other people.
But I didn’t accept it.
I knew that having that job wouldn’t make me happy, and it would more likely result in a worsening of my health and wellbeing due to the increased demands and responsibilities.
While it’s and amazing opportunity, it’s not the career I see myself in long-term. And I have other goals (Like writing about health and nutrition, and one day being a certified nutritionist!) that aren’t necessarily what society would tell me to strive after, but they’re my goals not someone else’s.
I did agree to work in that position on a temporary basis until they find someone else. But I know that the added stress and expectation won’t last forever, and that I have an easy out if my health starts to go south.
Succumbing to the hustle just isn’t worth it, not if you’re doing it to please someone else or to fit into the mold that you think society wants you in.
You don’t have to go to college and work a 9-5. Not if it won’t make you happy, and especially not if it will be a detriment to your health.
You don’t have to work out five days week. Not if it’s making you miserable, and especially not if it’s putting extra stress on your body that’s already dealing with chronic illness.
And if those things are what you find fulfillment in and bring you joy, don’t feel like you have to keep up with everyone else while you’re doing them.
So what if college takes you an extra semester, and who cares if you only work out for 30 minutes instead of an hour.
I so encourage you to find your own path, friends. One that leads to health and wellness for YOU, not one that looks like everyone else’s.
And yes, with chronic illness that path will most likely move at a slower pace and look much different than the average path. But, there’s nothing wrong with that.
I’ve even found that there’s something sweet and special about moving at this slower pace - about staying home on Friday night, about only working your scheduled hours. It allows you to really cherish those moments in the still and quiet while everyone around you is moving at hyper speed. Enjoy them for what they are and how they serve you.
And when you do decide that going out or working late are going to serve you, you can enjoy those activities even more knowing that it was a choice you made with your health and wellbeing in mind.