Is Toxic Productivity the Reason Behind Your Latest Breakout?
We all know the type—the "Boss Babe" who's miraculously juggling a powerhouse full-time job, a fitness regimen that would make an Olympian sweat, and a thriving social life—all while still finding time to show off her 10-step skincare routine on IG.
Her five-second snippets of self-care make it all look so easy. So we try to emulate her, thinking that if we could just copy her lifestyle, we too could have it all. Fueled by face-tuned photos and blind ambition, we overcommit, overexert, and overdo it all in the name of productivity.
But here’s the deal: that woman isn't real. She's a performative ideal created by the toxic productivity culture that wants us to believe that we're never doing enough.
What is Toxic Productivity?
Toxic productivity culture is the belief that we must constantly be doing something to be successful. It's the need to constantly be doing in order to feel worthy. It's the pressure to perform, even when we're not feeling our best.
What causes toxic productivity? Oh, just a host of super-fun things like lack of boundaries, stressful environments, and unhealthy relationships, amongst other things. While this relentless pursuit of productivity usually starts in the office, it can bleed through other areas of our lives if left unchecked.
It's all too easy to feel even more pressure to perform in areas that aren't even related to work. Forcing yourself to go to the gym even though you've caught a nasty cold or saying "yes" to every brunch invitation, even when you're really just craving a night in with a good book, are both examples of toxic productivity.
When your self-care game starts to feel like another task on your never-ending to-do list, it's a sign that you're caught in the trap of performative wellness.
The Tea on Performative Wellness
It's not a crime to snap and share a photo of your healthy smoothie bowl or post a sweaty gym selfie after an intense workout. But when self-care becomes something you do for the 'gram instead of for yourself, it's time to take a step back and reassess your priorities.
Another layer of toxic productivity culture, performative wellness is when you're more focused on creating an idealized—and likely unrealistic—version of yourself for the world to see rather than taking care of yourself. It's when you look at self-care as something you have to do instead of something you want to do 👏🏼.
And it's something that we're all susceptible to.
Our Founder’s Story
Being the daughter of immigrant and workaholic parents, our founder Jennifer Chung was embedded into the hustle and toxic productivity culture from a young age. For most of her young adult life, Jenn shares, she spent every moment of her day squeezing in every ounce of productivity she could. When self-care started trending, she naturally saw it as another chance to overachieve.
Jenn’s life—like so many driven young women’s—was scheduled down to the minute with meetings, exercise, meditation, socializing, eating healthy, and of course, a beauty routine.
Eventually, she hit the inevitable burnout phase and realized that this idealized life was doing more harm than good. So, she finally gave herself permission to be lazy AF.
And you know what happened? It felt damn good. But how can you avoid reaching the burnout phase, to begin with? First, know the signs.
Signs of Toxic Productivity Culture and Performative Wellness
In a world of 24/7 connectivity and constant comparison, it can be hard to spot the signs of toxic productivity culture. If you're unsure whether your self-care game has veered into a performative territory, here are some signs to look out for 👇.
Feel-Good Activities Stress You Out
Journaling, restorative yoga, skincare routines, and warm bubble baths are supposed to be relaxing ways to unwind. But if you're stressing about whether or not you're doing an activity "right" or if it's "working," you're likely putting too much pressure on yourself.
It Doesn't Count Unless You Post It
If you feel the need to Instagram every face mask and green smoothie, it might be time to ask yourself why. Posting about your self-care routine can be a fun way to connect with friends and followers, but if you only feel good about your skincare game if you get likes and comments, toxic productivity culture is likely to blame.
You Never Feel Like You're Doing Enough
No amount of squats, supplements, or smoothies can make you feel like you’re any closer to your health goals. The goalposts are always moving, and you're never quite sure when you'll finally reach them.
Listen, life is too short to be this exhausted, but I get it; we all get caught up in feeling like we should be doing more. This mindset is straight-up toxic and can keep you from enjoying activities that used to light you up. It’s just not worth it.
The good news? Some simple, intentional shifts can squash all this “doing.”
How To Avoid Toxic Productivity And Performative Wellness
How to deal with toxic productivity comes down to learning how to let go of unnecessary responsibilities. This need for perfection in our work and personal lives stems from a fear of being labeled as lazy—but what if being lazy was a deliciously wonderful thing?
I'm not talking about throwing all responsibilities to the wind. I'm talking about giving yourself permission to stop doing things just because you think you should. Things that drain your energy and prevent you from enjoying the full human experience.
Laughing with friends, getting lost in a hobby, and exploring new places are all way more important than doing a face mask 3x a week. If you're ready to say buh-bye to toxic productivity culture and embrace your inner lazy girl, here are some ways to avoid performative wellness and live a more balanced life.
Take a Social Media Break
Social media can be a great way to connect with friends and followers, but it can also be a breeding ground for performative health. If you catch yourself comparing your self-care routine to others or only feeling good about your skincare game if you get likes and comments, it might be time to take a break.
Delete the apps from your phone for a week or two and see how you feel. Whenever you decide to log back on, unfollow anyone who makes you feel like you're not doing enough. I’m looking at you, Kim K 👀.
Reevaluate Your Routines
Self-care isn’t supposed to be a chore. If your routines are more of a burden than a pleasure, it might be time to rethink it and ditch anything that's not working for you.
The goal is to find activities that make you feel good, not guilty. So if your skincare routine is more of a stressor than a relaxer, it's time to switch things up.
In our society, we've been taught that more is always better. But when it comes to self-care, less is truly more.
Simplify the things you think you must do and make time for the things you actually want to do. That might mean ditching your 10-step skincare routine for a simpler, more efficient one.
That's why I'm such a big fan of our One & Done Cleanser. It gives you hydrated, glowy skin in one simple step. No double cleansing required 🙌🏽.
Ditch Stressful Skincare and Embrace the Lazy Girl Life
We may not be able to quit our jobs or jet off to Bali on a whim, but we can all make small changes in our lives to reduce stress and live a more balanced life. And skincare is a great place to start.
You don't have to sacrifice healthy, beautiful skin to simplify your routine. Our One & Done Cleanser is the perfect example of a lazy girl-approved product that's gentle, effective, and easy to use.
Hate double-cleansing with a fiery passion? This oil-to-lotion formula is about to be your new best friend. Apply One & Done to dry skin as a makeup remover and add a bit of water to emulsify it into a milky lotion for skin that can't help but glow.
It’s time to ditch the performative wellness routines and stressors that don't bring you joy. Your skin—and your mental health—will thank you for it.