May 18, 2020
Word of the Week: Selfish
A few weeks ago, I realized I hadn’t taken a day off in over a month.
Quarantine life has brought up a lot of my old workaholic tendencies, my fixation on being productive, my resistance to rest. I mean, if we can’t go see our friends, go to the movies, go out to eat, go on vacation, go to a workout class, then what is there to do but work? Isn’t this a great time to “get ahead”?
No. No, it is not.
I saw the other day Adam Grant posted something about how the average workday has increased by 2-3 hours since the pandemic started. I’ve always had trouble creating work/life balance (one of the many reasons I studied burnout in graduate school!) and now that the lines are even blurrier, I’m definitely falling victim to the overworking trend.
I can always tell when I’ve overdone it because I’ll start to get physical symptoms. I developed headaches. My left eye started to twitch. I was nauseous. My sleep was off. My left wrist began to throb. And I caught a cold.
Research says is the #1 way to combat burnout is to take a break. So, on a whim, I decided to take a Tuesday off (I get a lot of creative sparks over the weekend, probably because it’s uninterrupted time, so those days aren’t as good for me to take off). At first, I was bad at it. I worked for a few hours in the morning. I wasted time on social media. I caught up on my email inbox. I responded to text messages from friends I had put off. I participated in an online course. I called my grandma. I bought some birthday presents. I checked my Google Analytics. I did laundry. Dishes. Sweeping.
So, really, it was not a day off at all. It was a chores-filled, emotional-labor, half-working kind of day pretending to be a day off.
The following Tuesday, I decided to try again. This time I did yoga and meditated and an at-home facial and took a nap and read and wrote poetry just for me and watched TV. I didn’t check social media. I ignored my phone. I refused to be on email. I did all of my chores on Monday. I pushed any and all obligations to Wednesday.
At dinner, Andrew said: “Wow, you look so refreshed!”
Turns out people are onto something with this whole day off thing. I told him I was going to try to do this every Tuesday. Except instead of calling it a day off, I wanted to call it Elizabeth’s day. A day where I only did things for me. How revolutionary.
Ask Yourself: What do you tend to do on your “days off”? How can you build in more time, even if it’s just an hour, to do something just for you?
Weekly Mantra: I am allowed to be selfish.