Do you remember all those challenges flooding all over Instagram stories and other social media crying for “I worked out for 30 days and this happened!” and “Did you learn a new skill today?” Or “Did you cook a new cuisine today?” it is just as absurd as it is toxic and here’s why.

In the pre-covid era, I doubt if we all focused (and pushed each other) so much on a high-performance existence. So what changed? Why did it become necessary to put ourselves in scales and see who did what and how productive the other person was?

We don’t need a radical urge of self-improvement above everything else.

The lockdown accompanied many by-products that that sneaked their way into our daily lives and in of the pile of all such things, toxic productivity tops it all. Being productive is amazing but the constant pressure of doing something meaningful every day (even every hour!), the unseen demand of being at your best every single time is nothing but toxic.

What is Toxic Productivity?

Similar to hustle culture and workaholic syndrome, toxic productivity is an unnecessary and unhealthy obsession with being productive all day long, which is never enough and the need to give optimum output never ends.

If we think of a productive spectrum, either end is unhealthy and affect our lives and so, we forget to relax, let ourselves breathe and unwind. This often leads to burnout and it eventually affects our relationship, our daily life and our mood, adversely.

On the other end, we get too overwhelmed by our feelings and procrastinate which puts on a vicious cycle of feeling lazy and stressed about being unproductive. We are unable to concentrate for long and trying to hop onto different tasks, aiming to achieve things, but we can’t. So, what we need is the right balance.

Social Media and Toxic Productivity

The pandemic induced lockdown had us all go bananas! We tried everything we could do to feel better, however, this had a chain reaction of irrational obsessions and left most of us with devouring guilt of “we could have done more and come out of it with new skills and hobbies!”

First of all, take a breather. Each day, try to consciously remember that you will not be a failure if you didn’t come out of the pandemic as a zen MasterChef or have learnt ten different languages!

You are enough today, and you have done enough.

There has been an influx in the screenshots, reels and stories showcasing the routine of a super-productive day. It’s easy to get invested in other people’s idea and level of productivity. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in feeling this way, self-comparison comes easy in such situations.

Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in this mindset, focus on yourself and your idea of productivity.

Ways to Identify Toxic Productivity or a Message Around It

Here are the signs of toxic productivity:

  • You work so much that your mental and overall wellbeing starts to deteriorate.
  • Your relationship with yourself, your family and friends gets jeopardised.
  • You set unrealistic and unachievable life goals.
  • Forgetting and shrugging off personal responsibilities
  • Difficult switching off to unwind and relax

Ways to Ease the Behaviour

If you feel that you are suffering from toxic positivity and unable to jump off the race of unhealthy productivity, you are not alone. Yes, that’s bad news but the good news is, you can heal yourself from the toxic productivity traits.

Here are a few ways for you to kick this unhealthy trait off your shoulders.

  1. Don’t indulge in self-comparison. People are different and so are their life journeys. If you want to put yourself into other’s shoes do that for empathy, not for self-comparison! The situations you are in isn’t the same for everyone. Respect your resilience, and your progress so far and move forward with a positive attitude.
  2. Set realistic goals, wiggle along when needed. Adjust your goals to accommodate changes. If you are a team leader or managing a team, you may want to revisit your expectations, because life throws unexpected tantrums on all of us!
  3. Set non-negotiable self-care routines. For example, fix a time for your lunch, or your exercise, or book-reading session. Remember that self-love is not an indulgence, it’s an absolute priority.
  4. Rest properly. It does not have to be just on the weekends. Your mind works around the clock, it needs time to rejuvenate so that you feel fresh and boost your ability to solve life problems. Proper rest is essential for us to work efficiently. Revisit your resting routine.
  5. Practice mindfulness. Try to meditate with a guided meditation tailored as per your need. Meditations not only help you relax but they can be helpful for the sleep cycle too.
  6. Set and communicate healthy boundaries for yourself and others; at work and home both. For example, you can start with
    1. No phone calls at the dinner time
    2. You must exercise or walk for 30 minutes
    3. Switching off notification after you sign off from work
    4. No more than 2 hours of work before you take a 10-minutes break
    5. You must eat two healthy meals a day
    6. You must sleep for at least 6 hours
  7. Heal your self-talk habits. Appreciate yourself for small success. Don’t define your self-worth by judging how productive you are. Value is not in your output but who you are and let no one tell you otherwise. Having and chasing goals are important but they don’t define your self-worth.

Treat yourself with the kindness you would give to your loved ones. Don’t let toxic productivity creep into your life and take early measures to break the cycle.

If you would like to get in touch with our accredited therapists, book an online therapy session via www.healingclouds.com or reach out to us @info@healingclouds!