Just about anyone who knows me can tell you that I am really, really bad at taking time off for myself. I mean, I took a minimester for fun and get bored within hours of my last final. Before you make a joke, yes, I have a job. And an internship. And I volunteer at church. And I’m planning a wedding and running a small business on the side. *yawn*
I hate breaks.
It just feels so unproductive. I don’t want to be a leech, I don’t want to be lazy, I feel the need to spend every moment of every day doing some form of work, from homework to chores to earning some money to building this blog, and for every second I take off comes a new wave of guilt. I could be studying for a class, or working, or reviewing… but I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that downtime is important too.
My biggest stumbling block is attaching my worth to my accomplishments. I am only worthy of time, money, love if I maintain X GPA, if I earn $Y every month, if I have my living space clean as a whistle and food always ready in the fridge. If you’ve ever lived through this thing called a human life, you can probably see why that would be an issue.
This Christmas break, every part of me has been desperate for work. I want to work hard, get things done, check it off the list to show the world how productive and strong I am, how I can do it all. Doing it all, given enough time, will kill you.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the #1 killer here in the United States. Guess what some of the major causes of heart disease are? Excess stress, not enough rest, and eating “fast” food instead of eating homecooked, healthy meals. You know what that sounds like to me? An overloaded hard-worker, or a stressed-out college student. Long-term, however many boxes you can check in the moment by never resting, the damage is life-or-death.
Resting is important, and if you (like me) have struggled with connecting your value as a person with how much work you can do, it is even more important. I’m not saying quit school or work, and I certainly do not recommend just giving up because you have to work too hard. What I am saying is that maybe, next time you have a day or two off, spend them recharging alone or with close friends instead of finding the next “productive” task. More about how to relax as a perfectionist worker in the next post, but for now, try to reconcile “healthy human being” with “taking a break,” ok? There’s your homework for this week.