Always on Call? Carve Out Blocks of Time: Just for You
By Yehudit Garmaise
Way back before everyone had a cell phone, when most employees left work for the day, they didn’t hear from anyone at their offices again until the following morning.
Now that cell phones, however, have made us accessible to our co-workers 24/7, when do we take time for ourselves to rest and re-charge?
“The world no longer gives you time to rest,” Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, who advises companies about implementing four-day workweeks, told the Washington Post. “You gotta take [the time when you can.] Pausing will energize you physically and mentally.”
When we choose to dedicate some free time to activities we like and need, we can stop our nightly habits of “ruminating about those conversations we had with our bosses or co-workers,” said Dr. Pang.
But before we dedicate little blocks of time for ourselves, “We have to give ourselves permission to say, ‘No’ to overwork,” Dr. Pang said. “We have to protect the time that we are off the clock.”
We also need to ask ourselves, as working parents, “Are we able to give our 100% to our children when they need us?”
Are we able to turn off our phones and converse with our families without feeling rushed or distracted?
“We work in order to live, not live in order to work, said Baruch, who works as a manager at a construction site and who said that when he gets stressed, he reminds himself why he is working.
Ruchy, who works in public relations, said to take some time off, she “speaks to friends on the phone, and I hang out with my sisters.”
To relieve stress and create more balanced lives, people should also think about what hobbies they would like to pursue, Ruchy said.
“People have many talents that they never explore because they are so busy,” Ruchy pointed out. “Not pursuing our passions causes us to live our lives with compromised levels of joy.”
Charni Kohn, a recipe developer and food stylist who lives in Monsey, said that something that is fun and important for creative people to do is to take themselves on “artists’ dates,” which involves choosing weekly or bi-weekly set times in which to do something creative that is just for fun and not for work at all.
While sometimes the activity done during artists’ dates can trigger ideas for businesses or new careers, the time should be thought of as purely for fun.
Going outside to take pictures of things that are interesting or beautiful, taking a pottery class, painting, and taking fun outings to new places can all be artists’ dates.
Kohn, who schedules two artists’ dates a month and one complete day off a week in addition to Shabbos, said that working 24/6 “just doesn’t work out in the long-term.”
“Burn-out is real,” said Kohn, who learned about artists’ dates when she took a course in food styling last year. “For creatives, especially, taking time off is the best investment for creativity.
Ruchy starts each day in a serene state of mind by practicing a 5-minute meditation in which she sits quietly, breathes, and simply pays attention to herself.
“Every time a thought comes in, you notice it and let it pass like a cloud, and then bring your attention back to your body and breath,” explained Rachel, who follows a guided meditation on youtube that also plays relaxing music.
“We need to air out our brains,” said Eichler’s owner Mordy Getz who also meditates every morning for 10 minutes by singing while he sits in the sauna he built in his house.
But Getz, like most Orthodox Jews, of course, said, “Shabbos is the biggest help.”
Even Shabbos is not a guaranteed rest for NYPD Inspector Richie Taylor, who often receives Shomrim and Hatzolah calls while everyone else is napping.
Inspector Taylor, who said his schedule did not provide much time for self-care, LOL’ed when he was asked what he does to de-stress, but he mentioned that he likes to take runs around Marine Park and go out to nice kosher restaurants with his wife.
Moshe swears by his nightly ride on his exercise bike to keep him on an even keel and enjoys learning Torah every Motzei Shabbos with his brother, and many Chassidish men head to the shvitz or to tishen to decompress.
For emotional needs and unresolved issues, some people can find help in therapy or by joining one of the many 12-step programs that provide regular emotional support and many tools for healthier living.
While people must choose how they most want to spend their downtime, sitting on the couch with a cup of tea and just staring into space or schmoozing with a spouse or friend also can do wonders.
Science journalist Christie Aschwanden wisely said, “Sometimes the way forward is to stop and to rest and to do nothing.”