When It’s Time to Stop Hustling 

You may have seen articles in any number of publications talking about the downside of “hustle culture.” It largely refers to the multiple extra jobs, aka side hustles, an increasing number of individuals of all ages are taking on. Hustle culture also includes people who may only have one job but who take their work ethics to an extreme place – working more than they should, and sometimes bragging about it a lot more than they should! It’s part of a long-running quirk of the human psyche – or at least the American human psyche — in which we start identifying ourselves more by our jobs than by who we are as people. 

At House Call Doctor Los Angeles, we see the effects of excessive stress and workaholic behavior just about every day. We’re glad we’re not the only ones who’ve noticed

Some argue that the US work ethic has been out of control since the 1980s. Others believe work is inherently virtuous and see no problem with living to work rather than working to live. There may be some truth to this for people who genuinely enjoy their work more than just about anything, or those who have a sense of mission, but fairly few of us can honestly say that about ourselves. 

The 1970s were a time when Americans were often critical of what they saw as increasing laziness and hedonism, especially among the young. By the end of the decade, however, those now somewhat older Americans were among the world’s hardest workers – to this day, we work a great deal more than most Europeans, and families with two breadwinners became the norm. 

Technological advances once prompted futurists to predict three-day work weeks by the 21st century. Instead, it meant productivity increases that rarely aligned with pay. Corporations sought to squeeze as much productivity out of every worker as possible to keep their profits and their stock prices increasing. By the 1990s, always hardworking Americans were working more than ever with 80 and 90-hour workweeks becoming more common in some professions. Still, if there’s anything harder and more stressful than working at one job for 90 hours, it might be doing four jobs for 80 hours when you’re not sure where your next paychecks will be coming from.

Which Fields are the Busiest?

If you’re feeling drastically overworked, you might be, of course, a medical doctor – especially during your residency but later as well. You might also be a lawyer, particularly a new associate at one of the larger law firms where “golden handcuffs” combine absurdly long hours and large but not quite absurd starting salaries. Finally, the highly competitive world of entertainment can involve long hours as productions rush to meet deadlines and, in the case of animation or high-budget SFX heavy blockbusters, hundreds of highly skilled specialists in the art of illusion. And let’s not forget ambitious independent filmmakers and studio executives whose lives still often reflect the title of an acclaimed 1941 novel, What Makes Sammy Run? (Interestingly, no one’s been able to put together a movie version; it still may hit Hollywood a little too close to the bone 84 years later!)

Why You May Need to Slow Down

You’ve probably heard the factoid that, people in surveys tend to rank their fear of public speaking above their fear of death. This is not as odd as you might think. To just about all of us, death is ultimately unfathomable. However, we all know how bad humiliation feels. In much the same way, we often have an inordinate fear of not getting all our work done even if it doesn’t matter much whether a project is finished Monday, Wednesday, or Friday. Only when failing health finally puts us in a life-or-death situation do we realize that, while we may think we’re playing it safe by working hard and long, we’ve been gambling with our health and wellbeing the entire time. There’s no lack of medical evidence showing that excess stress and lack of healthy exercise are genuine killers. 

Moreover, one may ask, is working hard really the most important thing in our lives, even if we love our work? As the saying goes, nobody on their deathbed regrets missing a few days on the job. It’s much more common to regret not spending more time with our children, family, and friends, as well as missing out on hobbies or creative pursuits we do for the simple pleasure of doing it. “Working yourself to death” is much more than an expression. Even when people manage to evade death for a long time – an experience today’s highly advanced medical science is making much more common – they might regret the habits that led to debilitating health effects that may linger for the rest of their lives. Many people tend to think of health as mostly longevity. Many a smoker has said “If I die, I die”…but what the person doesn’t realize is that they most likely won’t die and may have to live on with a single lung. As hard-living baseball legend Mickey Mantle famously said, “If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”

Slowing down enough to eat properly, getting enough exercise, and sleeping at least 7 hours nightly will not only increase your life expectancy, it will make you happier to be alive.

How to Slow Down 

For a true workaholic, this fits into the category of “easier said than done.” For some people, simply planning a vacation, and then taking the vacation is enough, whether it’s to an exciting foreign land, a resort, or a long visit to spend time with our favorite people. 

Some experts say that it takes at least eight days to fully unwind on vacation and, if you’re constantly taking calls for work, it’s much less of a vacation. It’s important to cut yourself off from your work as much as is practical. This will be easier if you have a solid group of people at your workplace able to pick up the slack and are considerate enough to avoid bothering you with anything they could take care of on their own. 

If you’re the kind of person who’s terrified of leaving your routine behind for a week or two, however, don’t be hard on yourself – there’s not much point in stressing out about stress! It’s possible that, right at this time, you’re new business may need close supervision…or it might be the kids who need looking after. Instead, consider planning a vacation for when you anticipate being able to step away from your responsibilities for at least a week or two – and then make it so that you can’t cancel the plan easily. You can tell people: “It’s already set.”

Even if you’re taking vacations, you can still be draining them of their value. Some folks try to jam all their fun into two weeks a year and then spend the other 50 killing themselves with work. Those people often have difficulty simply adjusting to the idea of not working. Others have an ethos of “work hard, play hard” but many take their play so seriously it might as well be work.  Some may take dubious prescriptions and/or recreational drugs to allow them to keep up the pace. This is, obviously, the opposite of winding down and getting healthier. You know the difference between abusing your body and relaxing. 

Finally, if all that demanding work you’ve been doing has translated into money, by all means, use some of it. One of the best things about having money is that you can use it to make your life easier and less stressful. Having people clean your house, mow your lawn, fix things around the house, and so forth can be one of the most important perks of financial success. So is enjoying good, healthy food at excellent restaurants. If you’re well off enough to take it to the next level, an in-home cook can be great for both health and convenience. If some part of you remembers the old days when you couldn’t afford luxuries and recoils from spending the money, ask yourself why, exactly, you’ve been working so incredibly hard. Time is money but money can also be time.

Concierge Medicine

Concierge services have become popular for higher-earning individuals who want and need exceptional care from their doctors. It provides more efficient and effective care by allowing doctors to spend more time with their patients and to get to know their cases better. Most people are used to the rushed check-ups they may get via HMOs, where doctors are extremely limited in their time. This is the opposite and often involves a leading physician. It saves you time and worry and helps you maintain your and your family’s health.

Respected board-certified internist Dr. Michael Farzam has treated people of all ages and all levels of society, from professionals to hard-charging business people and performers. In addition to Dr. Farzam’s decades of expertise in top-flight concierge care, our team at House Call Doctor Los Angeles offers an entirely mobile service that meets the patient where they may be – home, their office, a worksite, a hotel, pretty much anyplace where there’s enough space and privacy for a medical appointment. Everything from checkups and consultations on chronic matters to care for non-emergency minor injuries, vaccines, and immunizations, as well as rapid delivery of time-sensitive medications such as Tamiflu and Paxlovid for new cases of COVID can be delivered to a patient wherever they are. If you are a busy person based in metropolitan Los Angeles, Dr. Farzam can offer you the best of all medical worlds. 

Get Started

Whether you are dealing with an acute issue and don’t have time – or energy – to deal with the inconvenience of a standard urgent care center or emergency room or want to talk about your long-term health situation and perhaps set up a concierge services package, Michael Farzam, M.D., and the House Call Doctor Los Angeles team are here to help. To get started, call us at the number on your screen or visit our contact page

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