Ditch Work Guilt

Overcoming the Productivity Guilt to Avoid a Burnout

Graphic: Joey Bruce

I always found that being as occupied as I could be was how I thrived. I enjoyed taking on leadership roles and found that keeping myself busy was both the key to my success and to maintaining a decent mental health.

After taking some time off from school, I received an opportunity to manage a business. Fast-forward to two years later, I found myself juggling pressure and commitments that I placed upon myself only to realize they weren’t mine. What was initially just a few months off of school became a tumultuous two years of running a business.

At the beginning, I enjoyed how consistently exhausted I was. I slept better and my days were full. I was working with friends and was able to maintain a fulfilling social life. After time passed, responsibilities at work had begun to pile up and frustrations reached an all-time high.

I continued piling duties onto my plate that subconsciously, I knew would be too much. My days were, in turn, filled with intense anxiety, extreme physical exhaustion and sleepless nights. At the time, I had a constant nagging feeling that the business depended on me—that I needed money for tuition, money to support myself, all while trying to attend university part-time.

The days where I used to return to my apartment and feel pleasantly tired were long gone. I ignored the signs for many months. Succeeding in school seemed to be a concept that was drifting further away every minute.

Last November I pulled the plug on everything that I possibly could. I quit my job, moved back in with my parents and cut ties any toxicity that no longer served me. For the first time in two years, I felt I could breathe.

I once explained to a friend that it felt like I had just finished running the longest marathon of my life. It felt like I had pressed fast-forward for all that time and forgot to take my hand off of the remote.

It has been a long process: getting my life back together, but it had to happen. We often get so consumed with not letting others down that we instead let ourselves down. It’s alright for something to be too much, it’s alright to be tired and to prioritize what is important to you.

Most importantly, it’s important to ask for help.

Life has become increasingly fast-paced. There is always an appointment, an outing, or a work-related task to conquer.

The days have a tendency to mould together and become short-lived and sparse.

Time for ourselves is limited; most of us are left with many obligations and finding ourselves drawn thin. These days, there is often an incredible amount of pressure looming over our lives.

My experience with our fast-paced lifestyle eventually left me completely chaotic. I see many people in my life entering the workforce who are at similar unhealthy breaking points.

As the school year winds down, summer approaches. It’s inevitable that anxious thoughts will accumulate. Between tuition for next year, student debt, looking for employment and staying ahead, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.

It’s incredible to live in a society where we have the ability to pursue our goals, however, being too driven can severely impact your life in a negative way. In the long run, spreading yourself too thin can be disastrous.

You might miss things you wish you hadn’t, relationships suffer, and health deteriorates. Life moves at different speeds for everyone. What may be right for someone else might not work for you.

I’ve decided I like taking my time when I feel like I can. I don’t succumb to pressures brought on by others to be constantly working, or those that I tend to put on myself. I like my busy days and my slow days.

I always used to feel a sense of guilt because I wasn’t constantly working as hard as I could be, or that what I was doing wasn’t enough.

This is an extremely toxic mindset that will undoubtedly, at some point, leave you in shambles.

Though it’s been difficult to shake my previous mentality, my experience last year left me with a newfound priority: my health.