“Rise and shine,” we know the phrase and maybe the alarm or beloved reminder to either get up and get ready or be late that usually comes with it. These days, I’m hearing it less with an alarm clock and more at basically any time of day thanks to Twitter—at least I’m hearing the re-worked version of the phrase that started a few years ago and is now making a comeback.

“Rise and Grind.”

So what does that mean and why should you care about some random Twitter trend? Because it’s not just Twitter, it’s us, it’s the way we work. Trust me on this one, I’ll explain.

Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

This phrase, rise and grind, represents what seems to be a social movement encouraging people to use the free time and space given by the shelter-in-place orders to be productive. I recognize that my blog post from two weeks ago (linked here) reflected something similar, talking about what could be done or how we might fill our time while trying to flatten the curve.

But there’s a difference between my post and this trend: I offered an article that featured activity ideas for several areas of our lives, including relaxing. Rise and grind culture focuses solely on productivity and making the most out of a bad situation. Even when sometimes, you’re not supposed to.

For the past two weeks, I haven’t had class or work, so I’ve enjoyed plenty of extra time for naps and sleeping in. Unfortunately, trends like this one make me feel guilty for doing so. After all, why waste my time sleeping when I could be writing that entire novel I’ve been talking about or creating my own company while I’m at it.

I feel guilty for taking care of myself due to the comparison and abject pressure that comes from what everyone else seems to be doing. I mean, why do you think stores ran out of toilet paper so fast; maybe we really would follow them if all our friends jumped off a bridge. 

Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

That’s the issue with rise and grind culture: it reflects our larger society, the society that just about all of us work and participate in. Even when there is a whole lot going on around the world and so many people are facing countlessly different situations, acting as if right now is the perfect time to buck up and buckle in to get work done is a problematic mindset to perpetuate.

For some of us, it might hurt more than it helps simply due to ignorance or oversimplification. Each of us is dealing with different circumstances from the next person. Rise and grind culture acts as if it is a one-size-fits-all idea. But it isn’t.

With every person who reads this post, let’s say 200 people total read it within the next two days— overestimating, but stick with me regardless. Out of that 200, at least 75% or 150 of you have felt more stress, anxiety, pressure, and/or fear over the past two weeks. Plans have changed, jobs might be on the line, invested money is disappearing, children are home, or just the opposite and some families aren’t all together so there’s that to worry about too.

You’re stressed. Or worried. Or exhausted from rearranging just about everything. If that’s the case, it would do much less for anyone’s wellbeing to try to force productivity that isn’t quite ideal right now.

Not only does rise and grind culture force people to push through something that maybe they should be facing rather than ignoring—working on de-stressing and reconnection rather than the opposite—it also perpetuates the idea that there is no time to feel the weight of everything happening.

Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

Think of it like grief. In a lot of ways, they’re one in the same. Everyone knows what it’s like to lose someone, yet, in the workplace or even around friends, bosses, partners, etc. there can be this expectation of a timeline. As if at a certain point, you shrug it off and “get back” to your life.

That’s the problem, there really is no going back, not when so many circumstances have changed. We can’t pretend like everything’s fine or that the time maybe we’ve gotten back is ideal. Even if you’re using it, you know it still isn’t there for good reasons. Unfortunately, the same way society falls into the habit of pushing things off, it gives no space to be sad about lost graduations or ceremonies or surgeries or chances to see loved ones or promotions or internships… The list goes on.

Because chances are, the only thing actually happening to every person that reads this is the rise and grinding of hope or hard work that they’ve put into something that mattered until it didn’t anymore. And now it’s gone, or it’s changed, and that’s hard.

That’s hard, and that’s okay. We don’t have to wallow in it, but we can acknowledge it.

There are three types of people in this: someone who has 1. Gotten the chance to buckle down and get things done 2. Needed to take more time for themselves just to get through the day or 3. Landed somewhere in between. Wherever you stand, just don’t forget that your health and how you get through this doesn’t come down to the work or the productivity. It comes down to you being healthy— in body mind and emotion—in whatever ways you can manage.

Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash

So forget the rise and shine, maybe things don’t feel so shiny. That’s fine— feel it and then make the most of what you’ve got or ask for help if you need something you don’t quite have. Don’t bother with the rise and grind, good for you if you are, keep at it. Just remember that doing so also takes its toll on you.

What I’m asking you to do is one thing, just the first part: Rise.

Make your coffee or your tea, get the kids ready for Zoom school (Gen Zoomers anyone?), get ready for work if you’re one of those essentials that deserves a thank you, and prepare for another day.

Just rise. That’s all you truly need to do right now. Once you do, take a breath and go from there.

See you Tuesday, it’s National Poetry Month after all. Something to look forward to. Take care. 

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