June 17, 2022


Minute read

Overcoming Grind Culture: What Can the Earth Teach Us about Rest?

After a global pandemic and living with the glorification of grind culture, so many of us are feeling depleted. Our intuition is telling us something is not right, and we yearn for a change. What can the cycles of the forest teach us about this place of emotional exhaustion and how we can move forward with wisdom?

We need only look to spruce trees. Each spring, the spruce extend their tips with glowing bright green new growth. New life bursts forth practically overnight! The trees prioritize energy and direct it toward the creation of crucial nutrients. Scientists estimate 80% of the nutrients trees make go into an underground fungal network of mycorrhizal mycelium linked together with plants. 

A mycorrihizal Morchella synderi dusted with pine pollen

Collectively, we also have these moments of productivity where we have so much to give. Working and creating in these periods is efficient and easy. We’re fed by our work. Just like spring wildflowers, though, this energy is ephemeral. It is not meant to last.  

Grind culture asks us to stay in the spring of our productivity but nothing on earth grows like this, including us. This burst of life doesn’t continue all year. There are moments of rest, moments of ripening, moments of being fed by the mycelial network, and moments of being nourished by the nutrients decomposing on the forest floor. 

Our productivity isn’t meant to stay even. We need to be fed. We need to be nourished.

We need to rest.

For each of us, this looks different. As the earth works in cycles, so do we. Nourishment can be looking at art, listening to a new song, eating delicious food, a hike, a deep conversation with friends, creating a healthy daily routine, a run even just a nap!

Respecting that our cycles of creativity and productivity emulate the cycles of nature can bring an acceptance that is contrary to grind culture’s incessant hustle. We are not meant to be stuck in an endless plateau of output. We need inputs to grow. We need time to reflect and ripen. We are alive, and because of that our energy will ebb and flow. 

Be patient with your rest and intentional with your nourishment. Trust that you will have more to give when your spring comes again. The cycle will continue and the spruce will burst forth in green newness again. 

A western trillium (Trillium ovatum) emerging after the winter


Araujo, Laura. The Routine Reset. The MAPS Institute, https://themapsinstitute.com/our-online-programs/routine-reset/. Accessed 2 June 2022.

Holewinksi, Britt. Underground Networking: The Amazing Connections Beneath Your Feet. National Forest Foundation, https://www.nationalforests.org/blog/underground-mycorrhizal-network. Accessed 3 June 2022.

Pang, Alex S. K. “How Resting More Can Boost Your Productivity.” Greater Good Magazine, Greater Good Science Center, 11 May 2017, https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_resting_more_can_boost_your_productivity.

About the Author: Krista Cushman

Krista Cushman is a gardening, plant crazy, chicken loving viticulturist with a profound love for the Columbia Gorge.

She spends her days outside looking for bugs, fungus and mold in vineyards. Ever since the first autumn morning that she noticed the explosion of mushrooms in the forest she has been running into the woods with wonder and a hunger for knowledge whenever she finds a spare moment.

In a different life, she received a masters in education from Lewis and Clark and was inspired and guided by place based education. Now she combines her love of foraging and the Columbia gorge with teaching. A yearning to know the forest and how each organism relates to one another fills her with a deep sense of awe and purpose. Sharing the outdoors with her daughters and cultivating their relationship with the woods is her great joy in life. If you find yourself walking through the woods, yodel and she just might yodel back.  Click here to visit her website.



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