Friday! How long we have waited for you! Come now and breathe new life into us and usher us into your rest.
Haha! I bet I’m not alone in celebrating the arrival of the weekend. Over the past five years, our work-life balance has just gotten increasingly worse. We work harder and longer hours, with less time for family and ourselves. For those in densely populated areas with poor public transport systems, the travel time makes the days seem longer, and more stressful–an arduous journey made daily for a sad-looking pay check that definitely doesn’t justify the time we spend away from family.
I came across this info-gram that shows the gross imbalance that people now have to endure.
The Australian Institute came up with some findings that show 1 in 10 workers is unhappy with their work/life balance and this has gotten worse over the past 5 years. Australia! I have never met a single stressed-out Aussie, ever. They have one of the most laid-back and chilled out personalities which makes me wonder what kind of results we would get if this survey was taken locally.
We can’t completely avoid stress, this is true. We all have to work in order to support our family, to afford our basic needs, to fund education, to help bring dreams and hopes into fruition. Are we just completely screwed? No, I don’t think so.
If this is the reality of our lives today, then we have to find ways to circumvent the strain of everyday living. Just as we all need a good outlet for our frustrations, we also need a release from the daily rat race. It doesn’t even have to be as extravagant as a plane ticket to another city or country. The key is to find simple, accessible things to bring you peace, to quiet your mind, to remove the anxiety of deadlines, and to refresh you.
I met someone in California who once told me, “I’m fiercely protective of my personal time.” At first it sounded a little selfish, but then I realised he was on to something. Because his job and position demanded so much from him physically and mentally, he need to assert boundaries or else he ended up being drained emotionally. He learned over the years to be unapologetic about turning his phone off or to silent mode during weekends. He doesn’t feel bad about not picking up calls that aren’t from family when he’s off the clock. He learned the value of protecting his time because it was what allowed him to keep being effective in his job for his company, his team, therefore affording him the best care for his family.
I understand we all have different backgrounds and life circumstances, and different demands. I’m aware that our shifts and schedules may be polar opposites. But what I know is the same for everyone is that we all need rest. When we don’t have a weekend to look forward to, we end up rolling 7 days into a ball and throwing it deep into a weak end. By ‘weekend’ I don’t strictly mean a Saturday and Sunday (I understand some people have a week day off in exchange for weekend shifts). Your weekend is any one or two days that you have where you don’t have to work or think about work.
Find something that brings you joy and relaxes you. When you refresh your heart and soul, your mind and body easily follow. Take beautiful afternoon walks by the lake, play some music on the guitar or piano, read a book while enjoying your favourite hot or iced drink. Watch a movie with a friend. The choices are endless. The choice is yours. Letting loose and getting down every now and then helps you churn a new strength for the coming week when you need to be made of tough stuff.