Elysian Being: The Hustle vs. Your Health

Written by Jessica Comingore Photo by Jennifer Young

It’s taken me some time to get in the head space to sit down and write this one, likely because I’m still very much navigating the subject myself. But I figured what better time than now to open up the conversation on a topic that seems to be more relevant than ever. To get specific, I’m talking about the hustle when it comes to work, and how sustaining it eventually impacts a myriad of things in our lives — namely, our health. Through the process of absorbing a number of articles and conversations on the issue, I’ve come to realize that my experience is not isolated, and that there are many others (namely, women entrepreneurs) navigating the same struggles, challenges, and transitions at this point in their career.
To take things back a bit, I was one of those young adults who had a very clear idea of what I wanted my work life to look like, and how I was going to get there. No goal was too big, or hurdle too high for me to assess, tackle, and achieve. I graduated from design school at twenty, and proceeded to dedicate my life to work and goal setting, hustling my way from one milestone to the next for the majority of my 20’s. Inevitably, this approach lead to a burn-out before I’d even hit the five year mark of running my business.

Outside of being ambitious, I’ve also always been stressed, and alongside this stress came stomach issues that have persisted in some

“It is fascinating how much our society values the output in a work sense in order to determine our worth.”
Jess Lively
capacity for the past fifteen years. I saw a number of doctors, I got into running, I talked out my stress to those around me, but the pain managed to creep in weekly, if not daily. It wasn’t until last year that I made a vow to get to the bottom of these issues, and figure out a way to remedy what was causing the crippling pain in my gut. Not surprisingly in hindsight, it turns out that most (if not all) of these issues were rooted in stress. Rooted in the stress I was putting on myself, day-to-day, running a business, juggling a lengthy to-do list, and hustling to keep up.

The mind-gut connection is a powerful one, and with all of the ruminating I had going on in my head, I left my stomach in knots,

unable to process or digest much of anything. The discovery got me wondering at what cost we sacrifice our well-being on the day-to-day to achieve what we’ve been taught to define as success. Why is it that we so closely link who we are with what we do? I have a feeling the answer lies much deeper in our societal framework than we can control (and that social media isn’t helping), but that doesn’t mean we can’t quietly lead a revolution towards healthier habits, and honoring ourselves just as much as we do our work. Whether it be taking a two-week vacation, or managing just two projects instead of ten, it doesn’t make us any less successful. In fact, I think it makes us more human.
“If we slept well, and ate well, and moved well, we would do all of the other things in our life so much better.”
Jason Harrison

These days, success is looking a little different to me. Success is getting a full night of rest so I can wake up and take a walk around the neighborhood. Success is closing my laptop by 5pm so I can prepare and cook a proper dinner with my boyfriend. Success is carving out time to be present with those I care about without being preoccupied with work. I’m certainly still in the beginning stages of all of this (and trying to reverse years of unhealthy habits), but there are a lot of amazing resources out there right now, a few of which I’ve linked to in today’s takeaways. What are your sentiments when it comes to the value we place on work tied to self worth? As always, feel free to chime in with any experiences or thoughts in the comments below.


01. Fitness For Bosses with Jason Harrison on Being Boss
02. The Power of Being “Enough” with Anna Maria Locke on The Lively Show
03. A Workaholic’s 7 Steps To Recovery by Julienne Gordon

Comments (10)

  • Bre

    I connect SO much with this, Jessica! I too hit my own burnout and have spent the past year, year and a half trying to undo years of unhealthy habits. I’m still very much a work in process, but it’s nice to know that others are going through the same thing and are starting to put wellness first. It truly is so important. <3

    • jessica

      I couldn’t agree more, Bre. And thank you so much for chiming in. It’s definitely nice to know others are experiencing the same sentiments, and hopefully we’re all on our way towards healthier habits in the future.

  • VV

    Thanks for opening up the conversation about this! Feeling the same, and am also trying to make conscious efforts to step and stretch away from the desk more, scheduling in home / health / me items with more regularity until it becomes second nature as it should be.

    practice, practice, work in progress. & together!


    • jessica

      Absolutely. I feel like reigniting our morning hikes is already bringing some levity. Thanks for your comment, v, and happy to know the support is in such close proximity. 🙂

  • Tawni

    This resonates with me so much, jessica. it truly is a struggle sometimes, (especially when you are working as a freelancer/running your own business) to strike a balance between living well + working hard. it’s so important, yet so easy to forget where we need to draw the line and make sure to designate enough time for the things that really matter. xo, tawni

    • jessica

      Hi Tawni! Thanks for stopping by. It definitely is, but I think the awareness is such a huge step. I spent many years owning my busyness like a badge, and it wasn’t until recently that I stopped and realized how backwards it is to frame it that way. One day at a time. 🙂

  • taylor k

    really enjoyed reading this post because this topic has been on my mind lately. my stress also manifests itself into stomach issues, and it’s no fun. i have learned to listen to my body and when i find myself becoming anxious, i take a time out to find the root cause, ACKNOWLEDGE it, and move on. SUCCESS to me is pretty much everything you listed above… being FULFILLED by doing the work i love, practicing self love, and finding the balance of working hard and enjoying the small moments in life.

    • jessica

      I love everything you’ve noted here, Taylor. It’s so much less about the act of being busy and the comparison trap than it is about being rooted in your purpose and fulfilled by your own definition of success. Glad to hear you’re on the right path. 🙂

  • Julia

    I cannot tell you how much i resonate with your words. i’m “only” a college student but still got the exact same problems like you from stressing out way too much. i always wanted to be a really, really good student, being “known” around my teachers for doing so well – as a result, all this pressure lead to me not being able to do anything for school for almost a whole semester. by now, i’ve realized that i have to create my own definition of success and that i actually can feel incredibly successful even if i don’t do as much as i thought i had to do for school. 4 hours a day at the studio (i’m an art student) leave me feeling just fine and very happy, and i just love having that other half of the day completely to myself with time to do other things. i also almost never do anything for school after 7 p.m. and highly benefit from it – time for yoga, etc.! thank you so much for this article, it feels incredibly good not to be alone in this journey.

    • jessica

      Thank you so much for your comment, Julia. There’s no timeframe on finding these things out, and it’s sounds like you’ve discovered it earlier than most! It’s hard not to feel guilt around stopping work sometimes, but we have to let ourselves relax and enjoy the myriad of other wonderful things life has to offer, beyond work. It will only make our focused work time that much more enjoyable and productive. 🙂


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