Many people have heard of toxic masculinity, toxic positivity, and even toxic relationships. But what is toxic productivity? How can it be toxic to be productive? Does toxic productivity affect your mental health? The unfortunate answer to these questions is that toxic productivity is becoming more and more prevalent, and it can lead to high levels of stress, workplace burnout, and depression. Below is everything you need to know about this growing problem.
What is Toxic Productivity?
Toxic productivity is the belief that you must be productive at all times, and that any downtime is wasted time. This can lead to working long hours, skipping breaks, and neglecting your personal life. Toxic productivity can also manifest as perfectionism, or the need to accomplish life without any mistakes. Toxic productivity is a mindset that one must be productive at all costs.
In our modern, fast-paced society, toxic productivity may sometimes be seen as a desirable trait. In the midst of extreme inflation, job market volatility, and hypercapitalism, a person’s ability to be productive is a factor that can indicate how well an employee is going to perform, how much a spouse is able to provide, and what sort of quality of life a person can afford. When a person’s drive to be productive starts interfering with other aspects of their personal lives, however, this is a sign of toxicity.
Toxic productivity can manifest itself in a number of unhealthy ways, such as:
- Constantly working long hours without taking breaks
- Skipping meals or not eating properly
- Not getting enough sleep
- Ignoring your mental and physical health
- Putting work before your personal life
- Trying to do everything perfectly
What’s the Difference Between Toxic Productivity and Healthy Productivity?
It’s important to note that toxic productivity is different from healthy productivity. Healthy productivity is about finding a balance between work and the rest of your life. It’s about taking care of yourself so you can be productive when you need to be. Healthy productivity looks like:
- Working reasonable hours and taking regular breaks
- Eating healthy meals and getting enough sleep
- Exercising and taking time for yourself
- Making time for your personal life
- Setting realistic goals
- Accepting that mistakes are part of the learning process
While there is nothing wrong with being productive, you can easily start to feel the negative effects of toxic productivity if you’re not careful. Toxic productivity eventually takes a severe toll on a person and can lead to burnout, anxiety, and depression. It can also make a person feel like they’re not good enough, or that they’re not doing enough.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the need to be productive, it’s important to take a step back and assess your priorities. In addition, you’ll need to make sure you’re taking care of yourself both mentally and physically. Otherwise, you’ll quickly start to feel the negative effects of toxic productivity.
Why Do People Engage in Toxic Productivity?
If you know someone who is always working, or who seems to be in a constant state of stress, it’s likely that they’re struggling with toxic productivity. But why do people engage in toxic productivity? There are a few possible reasons.
They Believe They’re Not Good Enough
One of the most common reasons people struggle with toxic productivity is because they believe they’re not good enough and need to work harder in order to prove themselves. Everyone experiences a fleeting feeling of not being good enough at some point in life, but when this misguided notion becomes a core belief it can become unhealthy and dangerous. Unfortunately, it’s one that a lot of people struggle with a serious feeling of inadequacy known as imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome is when we feel like we’re not good enough, despite evidence indicating the contrary. We might feel like we’re frauds, or that we’re going to be exposed as a fraud at any moment. This can lead to perfectionism, as well as the belief that we need to work harder in order to be successful.
While it’s normal to feel like we’re not good enough sometimes, it’s important to remember that everyone feels this way at times. It’s also important to remember that your self-worth is not tied to your productivity.
They’re Afraid of Failure
Another common reason people engage in toxic productivity is that they’re afraid of failure. This might manifest as perfectionism, or the need to do everything perfectly. It can also manifest as a fear of taking risks or the fear of making mistakes.
This is often because we’ve been raised to believe that failure is bad and that we should avoid it at all costs to save ourselves from embarrassment, loss, or humiliation. However, this isn’t true! Failure is an essential part of learning and being a human being. Without failure, growth is impossible.
They’re Trying to Escape Their Pain
Some people engage in toxic productivity because they’re trying to escape their pain. This might be because they’re facing difficult circumstances in their life, or because they’re dealing with mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. With 6.8 million adults suffering from anxiety, and another 21 million suffering a depressive disorder, it’s no wonder that some people will turn to toxic productivity in an attempt to escape their mental health issues.
Escapism is a common coping mechanism for dealing with mental health issues, and it is usually an unconscious process. Unfortunately, one of the worst things people can do about their anxiety is to try to stay away from thinking about it. Accepting that anxiety won’t kill you is key to managing it. The more you try to escape your pain, the more it will chase you, and the more you leave room for toxic productivity to wreak havoc on your life.
They’re Addicted to the Rush of Accomplishment
For some people, the rush of accomplishment they get from being productive is addicting. They might start to feel like they need to be productive all the time in order to feel good about themselves. This can lead to burnout, as well as a feeling of emptiness or disconnection from the rest of the world.
This is often because we live in a society that values productivity. We’re taught that if we’re not constantly doing something, we’re wasting our time. However, this isn’t true! It’s important to take breaks and to allow ourselves time to relax and recharge.
They’re Trying to Fill a Void
Finally, some people engage in toxic productivity because they’re trying to fill a void or an emptiness that they feel. This might be because they’re struggling with loneliness, or because they don’t feel like they have a purpose in life. Unfortunately, no amount of productivity can fill an empty void. The only way to truly fill an emotional void is to talk to somebody about it or to find something that brings you joy.
These are just a few of the most common reasons people struggle with toxic productivity. If you’re struggling with this issue, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. There are many people who have gone through, or are currently going through, the same thing. Fortunately, there are many ways you can avoid burnout and love yourself without leading to toxic productivity.
How to Combat Toxic Productivity
There are a few key things you can do to avoid toxic productivity. Use these tips to help you find a good work-life balance and help you achieve optimal results in your career, while still finding time for yourself and your family.
Set realistic goals for yourself.
One of the quickest ways to become overwhelmed and stressed is to try and do too much and have unrealistic expectations. If you’re finding that you’re constantly trying to accomplish more than what’s possible, it’s time to scale back your goals. Take a moment to sit down and assess what’s truly important to you, and make a realistic plan for how you can achieve it. One of the best ways to do this is through SMART goals. SMART stands for:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Time-bound
Make sure your goals meet these criteria in order to avoid setting yourself up for disappointment.
Manage your time wisely.
In addition to setting realistic goals, it’s also important to manage your time wisely. This might mean making a to-do list, learning to say “no” when people ask you to do something, or learning to delegate tasks. Don’t try to do everything yourself – delegate tasks to other people who can help you. This will free up your time so you can focus on the things that are truly important to you.
It’s also important to make time for self-care and your family life. This means taking breaks, and it also means making time for things you enjoy outside of work. Whether it’s reading, going for walks, or spending time with loved ones, make sure you spend time doing activities that bring you joy.
Ask for help when you need it.
If you’re struggling to manage your time, are suffering from toxic productivity, or if you’re struggling with your mental health, it’s important to ask for help. This might mean seeing a therapist, or it might mean talking to a trusted friend or family member. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help – it’s one of the bravest things you can do. You might find problem-solving CBT helpful in order to identify and change any negative thinking patterns that might be contributing to your toxic productivity.
Take Time For Yourself and Find Peace
If you find that you’re struggling with toxic productivity, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional. They can help you understand why you’re feeling this way and how to manage it in a healthy way. At Clear Recovery Center, we can help by offering anxiety and depression treatment, which will give you the tools you need to manage your need for toxic productivity. Call us today so you can find the relief that you deserve.