American millennial working culture is often inundated with the idea that you should always be “hustling.” We pat each other on the back and tell one another we’re “killin’ it” — a phrase that brings with it the notion of being in constant, maximum capacity work mode, focusing on productivity and achievements above all else. This culture seems to suggest you have to hustle hard if you really want to be successful in your chosen career path, and that you and your skills will be obsolete if you don’t measure up. But the reality of the constant hustle can feel pretty exhausting, stressful, and (dare I say) soul-crushing — which has left me wondering, is hustling a good thing?
Elite Daily had a chance to speak with wellness guru and soulful doula Latham Thomas (also known as Mama Glow, whose book comes out Sept. 26) to talk about how hustling really all that great sometimes, and how it can negatively impact the well-being of your body, mind, and spirit.
According to Thomas, it’s easy to forget the importance of learning how to and focus more on life’s process, rather than life’s productivity — and the research pretty much says she’s right.
A report from The American Institute of Stress said 80 percent of workers feel stress on the job, and nearly half that population says they need help learning how to manage it. Plus, a 2015 study from showed that people who are overworked actually die younger and are at a greater risk of heart attack and stroke.
With all of that in mind, Thomas says the “anti-hustle” is where it’s at if you’re looking to feel healthier and more fulfilled in the long run.
And what exactly is anti-hustling? Thomas defines the term:
It’s about honoring your need for self-care even in the face of things not getting done.
Shutting off your electronic devices, logging off from virtual life, and stepping into actual life. Grounding your physical and emotional body, and charging your soul.
If you’re deep in the habit of overworking, Thomas explains, keep in mind that no one is going to stop you. In fact, a workplace will often exploit your ability and willingness to transgress your own boundaries of self-care. “The obsession with productivity,” Thomas says, “has everyone, even over-scheduled children, fraught with anxiety.”
And all of this takes a major toll on your mental and physical health. Long-term effects of stress have been linked to several different types of health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, depression, and high blood pressure, according to Mayo Clinic.
Thomas says focusing on the outcome of your hard work, rather than the process, inevitably orients you toward feeling unfulfilled.
“We are no longer tapped into the intention of what we actually want or need when we move in this way,” she tells Elite Daily.
Everyone has a threshold for stress, Thomas adds, which is the amount you can handle it gets to a point of being too overwhelming, and potentially damaging to your health. For the sake of your well-being, it’s crucial to be able to identify your personal threshold of stress, so you can give yourself what you actually need, and know when your body is signaling for you to slow down.
This can be pretty difficult to figure out, but Thomas offers some helpful questions to ask yourself to start the process:
What does my body need from me now? What does my mind need to thrive? What provides me with spiritual fulfillment? What does the topography of my emotional landscape look like?
How can I design my life around freeing myself from the tyranny of my to-do list? How can I embrace the energy of ease?
Thomas says the thought of moving from a hustle-centered life to what she calls “a pace of grace” can actually feel alarming for many of us — but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Engaging in self-care is a great way to help you find your “pace of grace.”
And the way Thomas describes self-care makes it seem pretty damn amazing. She tells Elite Daily,
Don’t you feel like soaking in the bathtub until your fingers wrinkle, and reading a memoir with the dimmer on?
What about cupping your hands around a warm cup of tea and watching the steam dance through the air?
Slowing down can start with something as simple as taking a moment to put your phone down.
“Stop checking your status,” Thomas says, adding with humor, “and check your pulse [instead].” Find a way to ground yourself, be in the moment, and connect with your body in the here and now.
Another way Thomas encourages the anti-hustle? Take the time to do something each day that feels profound or sacred to you — things that step away from whatever it is you feel like you to do in order to keep “killin’ it” at work.
The wellness guru explains,
Mundane routines, like making your bed each morning, can be made into a ritual when we perform them with intention and mindfulness.
How we start and end each day matters, and can determine our overall mood.
She also stresses the importance of taking time for yourself — and yourself — at the beginning and end of each day. Slowing down at these specific times can give you some much-needed space for reflection. Yes, that means no tweeting your clients and no late night emails to your boss.
And last but not least, Thomas encourages people everywhere to simply be grateful for themselves as human beings:
Consider your body and all that it does to hold you up and keep you moving in the world.
Slow down, listen, reflect, rest, and be thankful.
So, can we make the anti-hustle the new hustle, or nah?