Workaholism or hustle culture have always been there in different avatars, and the pandemic has given rise to a new form of the menace toxic productivity

Being too attached to one’s work is not a new concept. Workaholism or hustle culture has always been there in different avatars, and the pandemic has given rise to a new form of the menace toxic productivity. Psychologists define it as the desire to do some work all the time, even when it’s not expected from you. The pandemic has blurred the lines between professional and personal life. With some extra time in their hands, many are now turning to work to define their self-worth.

Says Dr Jayanti Sundar Rajan, consultant psychologist at Roshni Counselling Centre, “During my consultations with corporate employees, I have noticed that they are obsessed with a particular aspect of their life because they are unable to process multiple stimuli thrown at them. Either they are too focussed on work, or on housework or a hobby.”

Dr Johnsey Thomas, who is a psychologist at Aster Prime Hospital, compares toxic positivity to working out at the gym round-the-clock. “You are going to become exhausted at some point,” he says. A person can work nine hours. Beyond that, it is going to be detrimental for health. That is why, we used to have 45-minute classes in school to help our minds remain active, he adds.

Effects on body

  • Being plugged in to work 24/7 have led to people not eating or sleeping in time. If this pattern continues for some time, the person will feel its repercussions on her digestive, respiratory or other functions of the body
  • Backache, tennis elbow, frozen shoulders etc. due to sitting at the same place for a long time
  • Dry eyes
  • Recurrent headaches

OCDs have gone up?

Dr Jayanti says that Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has been on a rise this one year. “I have seen this trend among students, corporate professionals and housewives in which doing any routine thing has become an obsession for them. The quest for perfection and the need for external validation are trapping people in an endless cycle of work. Their internal critics make them look for loopholes in their work again and again.”


  • Many have lost their jobs during the pandemic. That is why, every employee wants to prove that he/she is indispensable for the company. They do not stop working even during the weekends.
  • Pursuit of a certain lifestyle make people go on an overdrive. They want money to buy that palatial house or go for exotic holidays every year. Social media adds fuel to this fire.
  • A few people set unrealistic goals. They think resting or spending time with family are wasteful activities.
    As told by Dr Johnsey Thomas
Drinking water at work

WFH & productivity

  • People who work remotely do not get face-to-face feedback from their managers. This perceived lack of communication can send employees on an overdrive to prove themselves by working harder.
  • Unsuitable work environment at home can make employees overthink about work.
  • On the other hand, people who are performing well in these circumstances are being assigned more work.
    As told by Dr Jayanti


  • You feel exhausted all the time
  • You spend too much time thinking about work, but do not really get much of it done.
  • Physical cues such as breathlessness and anxiety.

How to overcome

  • Remember that you cannot work more than nine hours
  • Take a break every hour, drink water adequately
  • Set up realistic goals
  • Break your work into manageable chunks
  • Take power naps. They have been proven to increase productivity.
  • Remember that you have to work tomorrow, too. If you are in the hospital, who is going to work?
  • Man is a social animal. Set aside time to interact with others.
  • Practise mindfulness. Lie down and merely observe your thoughts without judging yourself
  • Practise breathing exercises
  • Eat six times a day. People tend to overeat if they have three meals
  • Get up from your chair and move around every hour
  • Ignore the phone at dinner table
  • Remember that you are replaceable
    As told by Dr Johnsey Thomas

By Kakoli, New Indian Express


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