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Western World Workaholics: Why We Need to Slow Down

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Every social media app I’ve opened recently has focused on the art of productivity: showcasing planners, early morning workouts and making extensive healthy recipes for every meal of the day. The social media “That Girl” trend shows off how amazing and aesthetic your life can be if you hustle 24/7 and girl boss your way up in the world. Aside from just the trends, those who are more productive are seen in a positive light as opposed to the “lazy” people who watch TV and don’t have a productive morning routine. So clearly, I have always chosen the route of all work and no play. 

My insane pile of annual planners from previous years are stacked up in my bedroom and the notes app on my phone is compiled of daily to-do lists, planned out down to the minute. My New Year’s resolutions always consist of working out and studying, and my purchases always consist of things that will help me achieve these goals. But when all my daily to-dos don’t get checked off, I get frustrated and end up feeling horrible about myself. Was life supposed to be this stressful? 

After doing a bit of research, I discovered the entire world does not think this way. Many people enjoy vacation time and relaxing at the end of the night, regardless of their accomplishments for the day. Many people don’t take life as seriously and instead spend time with loved ones, use their time to learn new things, or practice their creativity. These productivity mindsets belong to the western world, those who are focused on competition against one another and materialistic overconsumption. Who can be the most productive? Who can achieve the most in life? Who has the most things in life? These thoughts that are set into a western individual’s brain, affects their daily life in a negatively draining way. Life doesn’t have to be so structured. We need to slow down. 

From an early age, seeing people who were deemed successful always accompanied money and power. I was told you must work as hard as possible every day, without rest, until you get there. I spent most of my teenage life working to make money for university. In university, I spend most of my days hunched over my laptop in hopes of getting high grades. By the time I graduate and find a job, I’ll spend the rest of my life working once again. After that is retirement, where I’ll be too tired to even enjoy life anymore. Why are we in such a rush to end our lives tired? Why do we choose to see success as money, when in the end we’ll be too overworked to enjoy it? 

The idea behind the productivity mindset works in theory. But the need to slow down and enjoy life is a huge necessity. One does not always need to compete with others to become more successful. What if success could be measured by the number of days spent laughing? Or the skills gained from doing activities and enjoying days in the sun? Wouldn’t life be more well-rounded if the pressure to be productive and successful was removed and the need for enjoyment was achieved daily? 

As a society, the western world needs to slow down. It needs to grasp what’s important in life, what you’ll really want to remember when you look back. You won’t look back and remember all the days you checked off everything you did on your to-do list. You’ll remember the days you spent relaxing on the beach with friends, or the nights you stayed up watching movies and enjoying ice cream. Taking a day off to go on hikes or riding your bike with friends will not hurt your long-term success. Balance is key and planning specific important things can be helpful but understanding the importance of winding down and enjoying life is just as important. Incorporating the values of both productivity and relaxation into your daily life will ensure burnout does not occur and that you get the most out of life. 

Kaileigh Klein

Wilfrid Laurier '25

Kaileigh is studying Communications at Wilfrid Laurier University. When she's not binge watching Gilmore Girls, she can be found reading romance novels in the park or wandering aimlessly around bookstores inevitably spending all her money on books.
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