This has got to be one of the most important subjects in life. It’s important because this is your day to day; how you function in the real, (ir)rational, day-in-day- out world. You need this balance to not go insane, or burn out, or want to kill everything.
What we are talking about is three things: Work, Rest, Self-care.
A lot of folks think rest and self-care are the same thing. They are not. Rest is what happens after work. Rest is sleep. Rest is binge-watching Netflix or Youtube. Rest is playing video games or reading. Rest is that thing you do to which your mind is checked out. The lights are on, but nobody’s home. We as humans need rest. Physically. The sidebar here, of course, is that American Capitalism is psychotically busy, that is to say, we are programed to be hustling during almost all of our awake hours. It’s insane.
A 40 hour work week should not exist. Numerous studies show that productivity in an office for a 40 hour work week is often only 20 hours. What’s goin’ on that other 20 hours? Pretend. That’s what. Acting. Faking it. That takes a lot of energy; faking work for half the day. The other half the population doing manual labor, they actually are working hard that 40 hours a week, often more than that, and they are truly exhausted at the end of the day. Why can’t cashiers at grocery stores sit? What’s the logic there? They need rest because they physically beat the shit out of their bodies at work. Rest. Americans in particular need rest. We work too hard, often unbalanced, and for little reason. It’s real dumb. Most of the rest of the world thinks so too. Americans, we’re nuts.
Self-care, on the other hand, is anything uplifting. Don’t get me wrong, video games and books and cat naps may all be part of self-care as well. It’s just that the focus of need is different. I wake up and read for an hour; it’s my self-care. Sets my pace for the day, gets my mind going. I have plenty of friends who make date nights to play video games. They love the action, its higher thought, and that’s what they want to spend their time doing. It’s want; self-care. It’s going out and seeing people, or meditating, or yoga, or running, or racing motorcycles, or going to shows, or shopping. It’s curling up and crying. It’s have a treat meal. Self-care is anything you do for the very selfish reason that it makes you feel better. It’s important to self-care. Self-care is the biggest part of work/ life balance.
There are a million ways to schedule life. When we talk about work/ life balance what we are actually talking about is scheduling. The ‘American Schedule’ has been determined at a standard to be Monday-Friday 9am -5pm. It is acceptable to go out and ‘self-care’ Wednesday-Saturday evenings. Rest occurs Saturday, and definitely Sunday. That is the schedule. It’s pretty set in stone. Obviously a ton of people don’t work those hours. Obviously that schedule isn’t considering the full nature of time, including sleep schedules, and medical needs.
My circadian rhythm, that’s the hours that I sleep the best, is from 4am-10am. (Circadian Rhythms are left over from hunter gatherer days when a tribe would have guards 24 hours to protect livestock or people. A person who is awake all night and sleeps all day may have been a night guard. Biological left overs in our DNA.
Now, I can absolutely slaughter 12 hours of sleep without trying, but most regularly, 4am-10am is my happy sleep time. I love it. It’s not that I can’t be a morning person, it’s just that I’m groggy. Like my body knows at 7am that is should absolutely still be asleep. Biology is an interesting thing. Because of this I choose work hours that begin later in the day. I like to work from 2pm-10pm. That’s a great full work day, scheduled, outside, at a business. I typically work in the service industry or private fabrication, so I can set those hours.
The role I got to is this: I like to have 2 hours in the morning that belong to me. That’s my self-care. I get up at 10am, have some warm water with lemon and honey to start the digestive tract. I read for 30 minutes, make breakfast, eat and read for another 30. Then I move to yoga/ floor training, and I do that for around 45 minutes, and then I meditate for 15 minutes. 2 hours. 2 hours of me-time. The next hour is washing, dressing, packing a lunch, and I’m out the door by 1pm to run errands or get to work by 2pm. I consider preparing for work to be part of work. As long as your mind is thinking about work, you are working. Americans undervalue that a lot.
So, that’s great. That’s the dream. That morning routine doesn’t happen every day. If there’s a partner in my bed, that 2 hours is for cuddling… or ya know, whatever. Sometimes I get up and go for a walk. Sometimes I watch a movie. Sometime I go to brunch. Sometimes it’s an early work day and I scrap the whole damn thing. The point being is that I’ve scheduled 2 hours of self-care into my daily life. When I work, I work hard. When I get off work the rest of the night is rest. Rest might be drinking at the bar, or a bath, or whatever. Sometimes I have the capacity to go on a date. Dates and friends, sometimes that’s self-care, more often it’s just care. Giving time to others is not work, or rest, or self-care. Giving time to others is care, part of our love language, part of being human and mammal. We need that too.
The neatest part about being an adult is that you get to pick your schedule. You get to organize how you want to run your time. Make a list of all the things you want to do, like to do, need to do. I need to yoga, I’ve broken a lot of bones. It’s a need. I like to cook. I want to go see a show at the Fox Theater. Write this list and then figure out how to schedule your time. You don’t need to self-care everyday. Not like I do. But you do need to schedule self-care in, ideally for 3 days a week, at least one day a week if you can’t make more time, though I promise, you’ll burn yourself out with only one day a week. You need time for you.
Burnout is what happens when you work and rest only. You’re either on or off. We are not robots. We are not meant to function that way.
See, as humans, our first priority should be self-care, second work, and our third rest. I realize rent and groceries makes that impossible for most people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t schedule in 20 minutes to sit in a park every day. That’s self-care. Sometimes it’s the little things. It’s that little bit of daily time for you which will stop you from snapping at someone, or saying, or doing something you regret.
Whatever the case, you need to consider yourself into your life equation, and you need to remember that you are in charge of your life. You make your schedule. You make your choices. If you are too tired to consider these things then you absolutely need them. If you are bored, with too much time on your hands, then you need to schedule a life to keep you occupied. Humans are not meant to be stagnant – nor are they meant to be overworked. Being an adult is finding a happy balance, and realizing that you are in charge of how things go. Make em what you want em to be.