Why is it in America that we see lazy days as a waste of time?
Why do we not see the need for our bodies to recover and relax? Studies show that as a nation, we do not get enough sleep. I’ll be honest, if I’m in the bed for more than 6 hours, my body starts to ache. I’ve been that way for as long as I can remember. That’s the way I’m wired. My son, on the other hand, needs a solid 9 hours of sleep for him to be at his best. It’s the way he’s wired. My husband is somewhere in the middle, 7-8 hours works best for him.
Since my metastatic cancer diagnosis, I’ve come to appreciate the days where I’m sitting around, enjoying time spent quietly by myself, or laughing with friends without having formal plans. Going with the flow, and having no timetable or expectations. I’m free then, free to read a book, free to watch nature, free to laugh at the dogs’ silly antics, free to watch a program on television, free to nap, free to soak in a bathtub for an hour, free to meet a friend for lunch. Honestly, if I don’t take enough time for me, I get grumpy and ache more.
Now, I’m not saying we all should lay around and eat bonbons all day long. I AM saying we need more balance. I’m just as guilty. I spent 11 years working 50-70 hour work-weeks, as if it was some badge of honor to be that busy. I still volunteered on the weekends at my church, and coaching sports or being team mom with my son on weekends. Monday through Friday I was consumed by work. How did I get so conditioned to be proud to spend so much time at work? Is it my generation? How did I miss that life is to be balanced with work and relaxation?
Now, by necessity, I don’t do that. I do still struggle with the feeling that I’m not “doing enough”, as if fighting the cancer isn’t a job unto itself. I’m working to adjust my mindset that it’s okay to do “nothing”. I don’t have to be busy to be valued. I need to slow down and appreciate the simplicity of the life I’ve been blessed with.
I think some of the Mediterranean cultures have a better system. Work in the morning, take a few hours for a rest / family meal, work more in the late afternoon and then back home for time with family and friends. It’s a good balance of work and play. Many countries, such as the UK and Canada actually mandate a certain number of vacation days for each employee. I think this actually ensures better productivity because each person has time to mentally and physically recharge.
What changes can you make to improve your work/play balance? Will you?