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  • The Pressure of Productivity

    Do you remember 2020? Of course you do, or maybe you are trying hard to forget. One of the main things I remember about 2020 is the obsession that society developed over “making the most of the downtime”. If you weren’t finding a new hobby or starting a new business it felt like you needed to be doing and becoming more. This idea developed by society was a dangerous road to go down. Even now 4 years later while we are no longer on a “break”, the same level of productivity is expected. The problem with this  is society often puts a one-size-fits-all definition of productivity, but the reality is that each person’s productivity needs are not the same. While we all share the human experience, our journeys and needs are distinctly our own and the need for rest varies from individual to individual. Despite societal pressures that suggest there is only one correct way to make the most of life, the truth is each of us must find our own way to balance work, rest, and personal fulfillment.

    The extreme pressure to be constantly productive often equates a person’s value with their level of fruitfulness. As a result, you may tend to measure your self-worth by how much you accomplish. Then, on days when you are less productive, you may subconsciously feel less valuable or worthy.

    Over productivity also contributes to accelerated burnout. Burnout results from being in a constant state of overwhelm and emotional exhaustion, leading to a loss of interest and motivation. The relentless pursuit of these unrealistic productivity levels puts our brains into overdrive, causing us to burn out before we even reach our goals.

    There is good news! You can reach your goals, maintain productivity, and prevent yourself from burning out. Here are some helpful tips to maintain mental clarity and overall well-being.

    Create Realistic Goals and Reevaluate Them When Necessary

    Setting realistic goals is crucial for maintaining progress and motivation. A realistic goal is specific, measurable, achievable, and time-bound. For example, if you want to learn a new language, a realistic goal would be: “I will practice Spanish for 30 minutes a day on Duolingo every day for a month.”

    While we all love to plan, life can sometimes take unexpected turns. It’s important to remain open to changes and understand that adjusting your goals doesn’t mean you’ll never reach them. Staying flexible within your goals allows you to be resilient when circumstances change. Remember, adaptability is key to long-term success.

    Practicing Self-Compassion: Be Kind to Yourself

    Self-compassion is the art of treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a good friend, especially during challenging times or perceived failures. How you speak to and think about yourself truly matters; being forgiving and supportive rather than critical and judgmental can make a world of difference.

    If you find that adjustments to your goals are necessary, pay attention to how you’re treating yourself. We often jokingly say things like, “you’re so lazy” or “why can’t you ever just focus.” But when you speak to yourself this way, you’re unconsciously reinforcing negative associations with being human. It’s important to recognize that sometimes things don’t go as planned, and it’s okay to take breaks or prioritize rest. None of this means that you are defined by the negative self-talk you may engage in. Embrace self-compassion and remember to treat yourself with the kindness and understanding you deserve.

    Prioritize Rest: It’s Productivity in Disguise

    Let me blow your mind for a second: rest is productive. Ever heard the saying, “If you don’t take a break, your body will take one for you”? It’s a reminder that caring for your body is paramount because, in return, it takes care of you.The benefits of rest extend far beyond just feeling refreshed. Physically, rest boosts immunity, regulates blood pressure, and enhances metabolism. Mentally, it sparks creativity, fuels productivity, and sharpens decision-making skills. Emotionally, taking time to rest reduces stress levels, lifts mood, and fortifies emotional resilience.

    So, the next time you feel guilty for taking a break, remember that rest isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity for overall well-being and productivity. Embrace it wholeheartedly, knowing that every moment of rest is an investment in your health and success.

    If you’re struggling with overthinking, negative self-talk, or feeling overwhelmed by self-imposed pressure, know that help is available. You don’t have to face these challenges alone. There’s strength in seeking support and allowing others to walk alongside you on your journey towards greater mental well-being. Consider reaching out to a local therapist or joining a support group where you can find personalized tools and strategies to navigate your unique experience. These resources offer a safe space to explore your feelings, gain perspective, and develop coping mechanisms.

    Written by Kiandris Allen, LPC-Associate, Supervised by Jenai Tidwell, LPC-S