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This Hustle Culture Might Be Killing You Slowly

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Tunji wakes up on a Monday morning with a clear goal in mind: to arrive at the office by 5 am so he can use the office wifi to deliver a client’s work. By 9 am, he should be done and attend the all-hands meeting for the week. Oh, shoot! He suddenly realises that he is scheduled to anchor the meeting for today. No lele, Tunji is confident he can handle it. His weekend was jam-packed; on Saturday, he emceed at a wedding and spent the rest of Sunday, after church, driving for Uber to make some extra cash. Now the client has asked for their work, which he assuredly promised to deliver by Monday Morning. As he tries to concentrate, he can’t help but wonder why his head feels like they’re pounding yam in it.

When Priscilla got her first remote job, she let out a long sigh of relief. The memories of constantly jumping buses at her previous job and experiencing burnout still haunt her. Now that she works from home, she can dedicate more time to her online shoe business and start her career journey into tech. Priscilla’s main financial goal is to maximise her earnings and boost her savings by all means. In two years, she plans to japa. Unfortunately, only two months into her new job, Priscilla finds herself facing another burnout, but this time it’s so severe that she ends up in the hospital.

Tunji and Priscilla, like many others, find themselves immersed in what is commonly referred to as the grind or hustle culture. Forbes defines this culture as a “mindset that emphasises working hard and constantly striving for success, often in the form of waking up at 5 am to cram in a marathon before a cold shower and running three businesses, all while intermittent fasting.” In a world obsessed with more, at the root of the culture is the idea that there’s always more, fuelling an insatiable desire to strive for it – more money to make, more networks to build, a bigger title or promotion to secure and a higher rung of the ladder to reach. 

Motivational entrepreneurs tell you your success depends on the hours you’re willing to put in and the sacrifices you’re willing to make. They emphasise the need to get things done while others sit back and wait. Sleep ke? What is that? How can you sleep when others are diligently working towards their goals? They even go as far as quoting bible verses such as “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep – so shall your poverty come upon you like a prowler” and “While men slept, his enemy and sowed tares among his wheat and went away.” So, no! You can’t sleep. You must hustle and bustle and grind. Grind continua, hustle ascerta. You snooze, you lose. 


Three years ago, a report highlighted that 64% of Nigerian employees are at increased risk of burnout. The survey revealed that burnout stemmed from both physical and emotional exhaustion, taking a substantial toll on employees’ mental health. In the hustle culture, work takes centre stage in people’s lives. The striving is relentless, pervasive and endless. It almost seems like if you are not hustling – relentlessly pursuing one thing after another – you are failing. But to what end? The answer is simple: t1o the detriment of quality well-being.

According to a study published in Occupational Medicine, there was a significant positive correlation between working hours and higher corporate positions. However, the flip side revealed an interesting finding: those individuals who were deemed “successful” in their corporate roles also experienced a higher prevalence of depressive and anxiety symptoms, as well as poorer sleep quality. The study concluded that longer working hours were associated with a decline in mental health, including elevated levels of anxiety and depression symptoms. There was also a link between these symptoms and disruptions in sleep patterns.

But if we dedicate more time to sleep, ensuring a minimum of 8 hours, as recommended by health experts, won’t poverty pounce upon us like a prowling lion? Have you seen the skyrocketing prices of food items in the market? A bag of rice is somewhere between N57,000 and N80,000, and a crate of eggs costs as much as N3,200. Let’s not even get started on the prices of chicken and beef. And where is even the time to exercise when work seems to follow us everywhere, permeating every aspect of our lives?

This is where balance comes into play. Hustle culture slowly kills, and the health sector is deteriorating, not only in Nigeria but all over the world. So instead of following social media notions of self-care, which often involves rituals like lighting scented candles, soaking in baths, or getting a new pair of expensive jeans, consider prioritising your health in more meaningful ways like getting sufficient sleep, nourishing your body with healthy foods, and engaging in regular exercise. These practices can reduce the chances of needing frequent hospital visits both in the present and future. And if you find contentment somewhere in the fast-paced hustle and bustle of life, and avoid the relentless pursuit of the next big thing, you might have just cracked the anti-hustle culture code. 

Believers in the anti-hustle culture advocate that the smart way to work is not to work longer, but to work efficiently. The core idea is to accomplish more tasks in less time, so you can have enough time for the things that are important to you. 

So when you’re hustling, bustling, and grinding upandan, please remember that this life na 1, no be 2. Don’t be like Tunji or Priscilla; your family and friends need you.

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