I feel like I’ve been writing about how stressed out I am for at least a month, now. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas—and all of the family time therein, or worrying about missing that family time—always seems so crammed full of obligations that I’m often left with precious little time to just enjoy, which I think is kind of a shame.
And as much time as I spend trying to figure out how to take time off, get away from my desk for an entire day (imagine!), the deeper issue is that day-to-day balance so that life feels like something to be experienced rather than an endless slog. (Okay, that’s a bit of hyperbole, but still.)
It’s not about figuring out a vacation, necessarily, but about making every work day more doable, more manageable. I mean, vacations are nice and all, but until I hit the lottery (which is difficult, I’m told, if you never actually buy a ticket), I still have to work for a living… so I’d rather figure out how to make most of my time more enjoyable than simply endure for long stretches between the nicer bits.
So I’m going to encourage you to go read this piece by Mario R. Garcia about pausing. Really; go read it, I’ll wait.
I would love to tell you that I read through it and a lightbulb went off and I was all, “Yes! Yes! That’s exactly right and I can totally do that!” But that would be a lie.
In reality, I went through something like the five stages of grief in reaction to this piece.
1) Denial: Um, what? Yeah, sure eating two Fig Newtons is just like a mini-vacation in your day, dude. Whatever. Can I have some of whatever you’re smoking? Because if a couple of cookies was going to do it for me, I’d be in much better shape.
2) Anger: You know what? Pieces like this piss me off. The implication is that those of us who are stressed out are, like, I don’t know, less evolved or something. Like I don’t have enough to feel inadequate about.
3) Bargaining: I might be willing to try this little mini-break thing, but if it doesn’t magically solve my workday stress level I’m just going to assume that this piece was an elaborate hoax. Or that the author is crazy. Or possibly both.
4) Depression: I am a miserable human being who cannot even derive joy from Fig Newtons, and not just because they have wheat in them. A normal person can take 10 or 20 minutes out of their day and be rejuvenated, whereas I’ve been known to take three hours just to stop ranting about some minor inconvenience from earlier in the day. I’m pitiful.
5) Acceptance: Uh, I’m pretty sure it won’t cost me anything to try this approach. I have nothing to lose, and maybe it’ll even work.
So there we are: for one month, I am going to try this approach of a daily pause and see how it affects my mood and productivity, overall. I’ll report back.
[Related: Why yes, it is exhausting being me!]