The pandemic has thrown a bunch of psychology terms in the last one year. Along the lines of toxic positivity, a compulsive need to come across unreasonably optimistic and positive even during bleak times, comes the new term called toxic productivity. It is an unhealthy obsession with working more and more, especially during Covid-19 times, where people feel they have more time on their hands, hence should be more productive. Workaholics enjoy their work and are addicted to it.
Those suffering from toxic productivity often don’t enjoy it, are under stress, yet they want to do it all. Considering there are Facebook groups and support groups for those suffering from this syndrome, like that of Anastasia Leligdowicz, a PhD student from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, it seems to have seeped into your lives, sneakily.
Pradeepthi Vissamsetti, psychological counsellor and Founder at Telugu Moms Network in Hyderabad, believes that the compulsive need to be productive stems from the Indian characteristic of ‘being useful to the society all the time’. “Typically, elders in the family keep expecting us to keep doing something or the other and not be lazy. The lockdown and the resultant lack of socialising have made us display our culinary, artistic and home decor talents, that could subliminally make us feel that we are not being productive. In these times, even surviving is an accomplishment.”
V Sailaja, the founder of Sahaja Foundation who runs a helpline in Hyderabad, says self-acceptance and the ability to let things be when you are not in your best form are the first step to stop the loop of toxic productivity. “If those around you have been telling you that you are working too much and that you need a break, see if you need it instead of dismissing it,” says Sailaja.
In a report in August 2020, The International Journal of Research states that Japanese workers on average didn’t use 10 of their paid vacation days, and 63 percent of Japanese respondents felt guilty for taking paid leave. Even in India, students working themselves to the point of death is sadly common.
● Take a break when you feel stressed
● Pamper yourself with a cup of your favourite beverage, watching a cartoon or solving a fun quiz
● Break the work pattern by picking up a fun activity, something you never tried till now
● Stop comparing yourself with others
● Try not to be ambitious/perfect in everything you do