Exhausted by Grind Culture? Let’s Cultivate Align Culture
Perhaps you’re familiar with all the subtle ways that your boss and co-workers hint at it. Someone is cheered on for staying after hours to finish up, applauded for “always finding a way,” or humored for their joke about having “no life outside of work.”
As a society, we have come to covet "grind culture"—the idea that we achieve security and status by working harder and producing more. We're often celebrated for our ability to show up, respond, and "be on" at literally any time—whether that be at work, in activism, in family dynamics, or in friendship.
When it comes to work, grind culture is the result of a system that believes humans are a means of production. We are told a story that we will achieve financial freedom by being willing to labor harder than others, and we’ve fallen for it.
On a spiritual level, we have become disconnected from our divine nature, our right to rest, and the reality that we are supported by the interconnection of life—not work.
Among its problems, grind culture is causing burnout. Burnout, which can be thought of as ojokshay, or low ojas, in Ayurveda, is common—and there is a wide spectrum of ways it can manifest based on its progression.
It shows up early on as a general lack of excitement, irritability, low patience, poor communication, and low creativity. Physically, you might start to experience persistent tiredness, unpredictable digestion or libido, sugar cravings, irritable skin, and general discomfort.
Eventually, burnout can lead to more serious conditions and deep-seated chronic illness.
So how do we collectively shift to another approach?
Welcome to Align Culture
Imagine if, instead of holding each other accountable to grind culture, we held each other in “align culture”—an approach that celebrates one another for living in alignment with our internal rhythms, honoring our bodies, and taking cues from our inner knowing.
When we encourage one another to live in harmony with the daily, monthly, and seasonal cycles, we collectively become more creative, generative, and connected.
This might, indeed, be one of the keys to the innovation necessary to solve some of humanity’s great challenges.
8 Ways to Encourage Align Culture in Your Work
Shifting from grind culture to align culture is not something that happens in a bubble, but rather as a collective. Here are some simple practices we can bring to our collaborative spaces to cultivate new ways of supporting each other and holding each other accountable.
1. Learn Each Other’s Mind-Body Types
When we understand the inherent constitution, or prakriti, of ourselves and the other members of our teams, we can create more ease in collaboration. Recognizing that different doshas bring different strengths allows for more natural alignment to occur in team dynamics.
- Vatas are often innovators who thrive in possibility and imagination.
- Pittas are often facilitators who thrive in problem solving and leadership.
- Kaphas are often implementors who thrive in building relationships and following through.
Encourage everyone to take an Ayurvedic dosha quiz, and then begin acknowledging individual strengths, creating space around challenges, and honoring each other’s workstyles accordingly. Be patient and forgiving—the goal is not just to do everything perfectly all the time.
2. Start the Workday a Little Later
Decide as a team to push the start of your workday to 9:30 or 10 a.m. to allow adequate time for a morning routine that includes meditation, a workout, and breakfast. This way, all team members can show up to work resourced and well cared for.
- Waking up with the sun to meditate is an excellent way to balance vata, encourage creativity, and soothe stress.
- Doing physical activity early in the day helps to balance kapha, energizs the body, and build strength and stamina.
- Eating a hearty breakfast to begin the day helps balance pitta in the digestive system and provides energy to show up as your best.
If your team is in different time zones, simply checking in with each member about what feels supportive to their morning is a perfect place to start.
3. Hold Team Meetings on Wednesday Mornings
Wednesday is a great day to have an all-hands-on-deck meeting. According to both Eastern and Western astrology, this day of the week is ruled by Mercury, the planet of communication.
Wednesdays also offer a great flow because team members can create momentum early in the week, then share their progress midweek, and implement next steps toward the end of the week.
Holding the meeting at 10 a.m. is ideal because it’s at the juncture of kapha and pitta times of day—bringing together the inherent energies of connection (kapha) with ambition (pitta).
With the support of these qualities at play, it’s likely that your team will be able to easefully communicate around the mission or task at hand and collaborate to determine a clear and effective plan of action.
4. Schedule Time for a Break between Meetings
As a community, decide to ensure that there are at least 10 minutes between every engagement—and hold each other accountable for it. Stand up, walk around, look out the window, or use the restroom.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, it’s also an important reminder to tend to your physiological needs and eliminate bodily waste.
The act of withholding natural urges, i.e. delaying use of the restroom, is a root cause of a wide range of imbalances in Ayurveda. So be sure you’re not holding your bladder for too long and that everyone feels supported to take care of their needs as they arise.
5. Remind Each Other to Take a Walk after Lunch
It’s easy to find yourself taking a working lunch or a lunch meeting—but try to carve out a few minutes for focusing on nourishment. Then, rather than diving immediately back into your computer or your to-do list after you eat, go on a quick stroll.
Ayurveda reminds us that one of the most important ways to kindle the digestive fire, which supports the root of wellness, is to take a quick walk after meals.
Allow this to be an opportunity to get outside for 10–15 minutes, perhaps connecting personally with a co-worker or friend, or simply being alone with your thoughts.
6. Create Intentional Space to Rest after Work
It should go without saying that when we leave work, we should be allowed to disengage.
Wrap up the workday with an emphasis on vata activities—like creativity, visioning, and play. Then, as you move into the evening kapha time, allow your energy to settle into nurturing your personal relationships and loving connections—without interference from work.
In a workplace that has a focus on align culture, your time away from work is held sacred.
What you choose to do with it is entirely up to you. Get silly with your family, enjoy a quiet cup of tea, or make time for whatever replenishes your joy.
7. Plan Out Your Month According to the Moon
So far, we’ve mostly focused on fostering a culture of alignment according to a circadian rhythm, or the cycle of the sun. But there are other cosmic cycles at play in our life as well, such as the lunar cycle—guided by the moon.
Consider the ways in which you and your team might leverage the energies that are present during each lunar phase, or for the people with a womb, each phase of your monthly cycle.
Here’s an example of how to map out your month:
- Begin with research and planning during the waxing moon (or follicular phase).
- Focus on networking and community building during the full moon (or ovulatory phase).
- Handle administrative tasks and engage in focused work during the waning moon (or luteal phase).
- Review or reflect during the new moon (or menstrual phase).
To the extent that you are able, create a group or personal calendar according to the 28-day cycle that feels most relevant to you.
8. Create Space for Cleansing in the Fall and Spring
Finally, we have the seasonal rhythms to consider as we co-create a culture of alignment. Just as the days and months have an ebb and flow, so do the seasons.
One of the best ways to honor the seasonal transitions is to do a reset, such as a panchakarma or a kitchari cleanse, to clear excess ama (toxins) from the system. The ideal timing for this reset is at the juncture between winter and spring (to clear kapha), and between summer and fall (to clear pitta).
Embodied, Empowered, and Aligned
While co-creating a culture of alignment may feel far-fetched right now, remember that change is all about visioning a new reality with slow, sustainable shifts.
First and foremost, remember to be gentle with yourself—listen to your body, rest when needed, and resist the urge to overextend. Ultimately, this gives others permission to do the same.
Though it may be challenging at first, modeling self-care and celebrating others for doing the same is a service to the collective. The payoff of embodying align culture is greater vitality, fulfillment, and richness in all areas of life. So worth it!