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The rise of anti-hustle culture

Many of us have emerged from the pandemic questioning why we so eagerly continue to worship at the altar of busyness. Exhausted, overwhelmed, and on the brink of total collapse, the concept of slow living has never seemed more appealing.

Is it me or does it feel like there’s a brewing backlash against hustle culture?

Triggered by Molly-Mae’s controversial ‘we all have the same 24 hours in a day’ comment earlier this year and reignited by Kim K’s rant in a similar vein just last month, the conversation surrounding why we so eagerly continue to worship at the altar of busyness when we know it’s doing us no good is one that’s currently rife on social media.

Unsurprising, really, following a pandemic that most of us have emerged from exhausted, overwhelmed, and on the brink of total collapse to the point where we’re having to decide between going goblin mode, embracing our most feral selves or simply being deluded.

But when did it get quite so bad?

Hustle Culture & Feeling “Behind” | by Kashaf Salaheen | Medium

Realistically, we’ve been heading towards this reckoning for a while.

This is because, in the digital age especially, it’s not uncommon to be riddled with constant subconscious pressure that to be busy is to be productive and to be productive is to be successful.

That happiness is unattainable if we aren’t monetising every waking moment we have.

Though most of us don’t realise we’re burnt out until it’s crept up on us, buying into the idea that flying through life at break-neck speed is a valid marker of how well we’re doing is leaving us completely unable to muster the strength to persevere at the rate we are.

Hustle Culture: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly for Millennials and Gen Z

Pair this with numerous lockdowns that have warped our sense of time (I’m sure I’m not the only one who deems 2020 to 2022 a black hole of nothingness) and it’s no wonder we feel physically, mentally, and emotionally depleted.

‘We use busyness as a wonderful, horrible distraction from life, and pain, and emotions, and things we don’t want to face,’ says Caroline Dooner, author of Tired As F*ck.

‘It’s a distraction from learning to be with ourselves and it’s sneaky because it is a very socially acceptable addiction.’

So, how do we take our foot off the pedal?

We Need to Talk About Slow Living - My Wellness Me

If it’s accessible, with some good old-fashioned slow living, an appealing concept that I’ve found myself increasingly drawn to in recent weeks, as the pace of my day-to-day progresses at a rate that’s out of my control.

Unlike the #ThatGirl movement, which encourages us to self-improve – a.k.a. 7am gym sessions, pristinely healthy diets, and ten-step skincare routines – alongside a full hustlin’ schedule, #slowliving teaches us to, well, slow down entirely.

Enthusiasts of this radical shift in mindset emphasise that it’s all about being conscious of the here-and-now, to enjoy the little things as they happen, to make considered decisions about how to spend our time, and to never rush or over-fill our diaries.

This, they say, is far healthier than our frequent tendency to manically tick items off our to-do lists as we strive to keep grinding.

@elsa.grace.evelyn living with intention #slowliving #slowmorning ♬ original sound – Delaney Bailey

‘Slow living is essentially the practice of living more intentionally,’ explains Elsa Grace Evelyn, a content creator whose platforms embody the outlook with comforting images and videos of foraging, wild swimming, morning rituals, and forest bathing.

‘My days are spent focusing on living in the present moment as much as I can.’

As wonderful as this sounds, however, extricating ourselves from the rat-race isn’t that easy.

Yet while the notion of quitting our jobs and disappearing into the woods is rather far-fetched (not to mention impractical), the values Evelyn touches upon are certainly worth adopting if we’re even the slightest bit concerned about our wellbeing at present.

How and Why Slow Living Makes You Happier - Grotto Network

‘Slow living comes from a place of choice, not from a place of action, thinking or doing. It’s a place of choice, which starts with simple curiosity,’ she adds.

And, stressing the benefits of this mindset when it comes to tackling the depression and anxiety we often experience as a result of hustle culture: ‘when you realise that the world doesn’t end and people don’t hate you if you say no to things, try it again and then just keep going.’

‘The more you ask yourself “is this something I really want to do or am I doing it because I feel I should?” it becomes a whole lot easier to just stop doing things you don’t enjoy.’

Going with the flow, it seems, is the way forward.