Even if your eyes are tired from staring at your computer screen for hours, the urge to keep working overwhelms you. Hundreds of negative thoughts run through your mind. I’m not doing anything. Not everything I do is good enough. I have to work harder, be better. If I want to succeed and be happy, I have to go beyond my limits. Sadly, countless teenagers, myself included, have a similar voice in their minds telling them to be constantly productive because they believe that’s the only way to have a rich and fulfilling life. But the perpetual cycle of toxic productivity can be far more harmful than most realize. Here are five recommendations to steer clear of toxic productivity.
You are not the work you do
Those who struggle with toxic productivity often base their self-esteem and acceptance on the work they do throughout the day. If I don’t finish all this homework, I can’t relax tonight. I can’t fall asleep until it’s all over. The key to rejecting the toxic mindset of productivity is to ignore these damaging thoughts.
It’s easier said than done, but it’s important to understand that you are enough simply to exist. You don’t need to prove yourself or your abilities. Especially during the coronavirus pandemic, I tended to overwork myself and ignore the pent up emotions inside of me. Toxic productivity followed me back to normalcy. But, I kept reminding myself that I am so much more than the checkmarks on my to-do list and the number of tasks I am capable of completing by the end of the day.
Prioritize time for yourself
When life gets hectic, it’s easy to set aside your needs and wants. You are overwhelmed with homework and extracurricular activities. But, it is important to take time for yourself. Putting life on “pause” for a short period of time will provide you with the break you need to continue.
Along with taking brief breaks throughout the day to declutter your mind, making sure you’re not putting work ahead of your mental health and wellbeing is key to escaping the vicious cycle of productivity. toxic. Every evening, for an hour, I take the time to do something that makes me smile, that relieves my stress. Whether I cover myself in blankets and watch my favorite TV show or spend five minutes just sitting and in the present, I make sure to set aside time for myself.
Be strict with yourself
Once I’ve crossed off all the tasks on my calendar, I’m frozen at my desk. Dissatisfaction consumes me until I am only disappointed in myself. Four words that I constantly find myself thinking about come to mind: I can do better.
I can do better.
I can do better.
I can do better.
I will have to do better.
My first instinct is to start working on other homework and activities. Suddenly it dawned on me that I would never be satisfied with myself. There will be still be something that I can do better or work on more. Being strict with myself and taking time to de-stress once I’ve finished everything on my to-do list has been very helpful.
Implement positive self-talk
Dr. Therese Mascardo, Founder of LA Digital Nomads and CEO of Exploring Therapy, explains, “You may find yourself caught in a cycle of pursuing accomplishments that give you a temporary sense of worth until it wears off and you need another accomplishment to make you feel valuable.
Toxic productivity will never let you win. So stop playing the game. Your value is who you are, rather than what you do. Treat yourself as you would your closest friend. You would like never tell them that the work they do is what defines them. Speak nicely.
When a rush of negative thoughts hits you immediately, take a moment to fill your mind with positive thoughts.
Don’t compare yourself to others
Photo Credit: The Lost Girl’s Guide to Finding the World
Many teenagers scroll on their phones for hours and hours. They see people posting about everything they’ve accomplished in a day. But, many fail to realize that social media is nothing more than a highlight reel. When impressionable teens see message after message about their productivity, they begin to believe that they or they are late or not doing enough.
But, many don’t realize that those on social media never post days where they are unmotivated and cannot bring themselves to be productive. Comparing yourself to others and toxic productivity go hand in hand. Once you stop comparing yourself, you will begin to decouple your value from your accomplishments.
The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated toxic productivity, and it’s vital for you to break this cycle immediately. Toxic productivity is rooted in a handful of other issues, including lack of confidence and self-esteem. Addressing the serious problem at hand will positively change the way you perceive yourself, as well as your state of mind. Like any other problem we face, tackling toxic productivity seems intangible and impossible. But, if you approach eliminating toxic productivity in small steps, you will have an incredibly higher chance of success. These five tips are here to help.