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Sitting with other students in the Bulldog Cafe is a great way to meet new people. (Photo/Caroline Barnes, http://carolinembarnes.wixsite.com/photography)

“Hustle” culture is contagious. The positive message of dream chasing through non-stop work might be inspiring to some, but it can ultimately lead to negative outcomes.

Students following this idea of all work and no rest are digging themselves into a hole. Hustle and Grind culture is toxic for students and is deteriorating physical and mental well being.

The problem stems from social media. Beauty gurus, olympic athletes and wealthy business owners, to name a few, portray an image of success through a steady flow of posts depicting high-profile events, endorsements and new merchandise. The depiction of “perfect” lives flood a viewer’s social media platforms and warp their perceptions of meaningful lives.

Hashtags with the words “grind,” “hustle” and “build your empire” are among millions and consist of incredibly fit models, money, cars and prominent actors in the industry. The messages meant to inspire its viewers to work toward achieving their goals ends up becoming unrealistic aspirations for the many on social media.

Social media users are encouraged to post about their own busy lives and flaunt being productive. Students probably know one friend who enjoys bragging about their chaotic schedule or their extensive to-do list and being busy becomes a competition. People begin tying their self-worth to their productivity and workload, and the pressure to maintain this image damages our society’s values.

College is a trying time for many students. Between demanding classes, homework, jobs and errands it seems like there is never time for a break.  Recent studies and reports like the 2016 Higher Education Research Institute survey indicate record lows in student’s emotional health, yet their drive to achieve is much higher. Students working for extensive amounts of time are doing so at the cost of their mental health.

The media has taken notice of the number of students dealing with stress, anxiety and depression in college. The nation’s top schools are reporting an increase of students who need access to mental health services, and a possible cause is college student’s inadequacy dealing with stress. Many students don’t eat or sleep properly to keep up with their workload, thus increasing their vulnerability to mental disorders.

“I try to study for each class at least 2 hours a day,” Rhea Shahani, a sophomore psychology major exercise science minor said.

For students taking multiple classes this can quickly add up to 8 to 10 hours of homework daily in addition to extracurriculars and jobs. Thus, our work driven society doesn’t include much time for rest and recovery.

“My sleep schedule is not ideal. I am one of the thousands of college students who don’t sleep,” Shahani said. “In a busy week, I average 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night.”

Hustle culture doesn’t address the behind the scenes stress that comes with maintaining a picture perfect life, people are afraid to admit the difficulties and failures that come with a busy lifestyle. Instead, it is often bottled up and unrecognized. Without an outlet for the stress, it can lead to anxiety, irritability, insomnia, depression, change in eating habits and substance abuse.

Promoting a grind lifestyle is more detrimental than we choose to accept, and taking time off to recuperate can actually increase productivity more than continuously functioning. Our lives should be more than a task list that needs to checked off. It’s time we stop idolizing the hustle culture and take time to live our lives outside of the classroom or office as well.

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