I took today as a sick day from work.
[Whispers]: I’m not sick.
So often, we take a sick day when we are already sick and depleted and rundown. After enduring weeks and weeks of stress and mental overload, we finally admit defeat and take a day. And usually, at least in my case and that of my mama friends, that ‘sick’ day is used to tackle the ever-multiplying items on the to-do list. I don’t rest. I don’t address my depletion or rundown-ness. Instead, I fill that precious string of hours with all the chores and tasks I can think of, in hopes of clearing that giant list, even if only for a moment.
Today though, I’m trying something different.
Today I’m taking what I call a ‘preventative sick day’. The name’s a work in progress- it’s not very catchy. Even still, I think it should be an official thing written into employment contracts everywhere.
My usual MO on a sick day is to make a list of all the errands I “need” to get done in order to clear my headspace, map out a logical route, then hit the ground running in hopes that I will be left with a handful of minutes to rest before picking up the kids from school.
I’m a smart human, but reading over that last paragraph, I’m shaking my head at what a dumbass I can be.
I mean, how did I ever get the idea that hauling myself around town to, I dunno, get the giant bag of cashews at Costco and find a birthday gift for the party my son is invited to and grab more groceries we don’t really need was going to make my already-depleted self feel better?
I can’t tell you how many of my sick days have been spent this way, where I jump from the pressure-cooker that is work to one of my own creation – in the name of rest and self-care. I never end those days feeling restored.
How did Einstein say it? “Insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.”
Well, Albert, I’m going to do things differently today.
Today I am not quite at the end of my tether with work. I am not totally exhausted or burnt out. I’m heading in that direction, though. My students are pushing boundaries like crazy at the moment, and my patience well is rapidly drying up. I’m struggling to not take their behaviour and their apathy personally. I’m struggling to find joy in my work, no matter how many times I remind myself to focus my energy on my flowers, not my weeds.
Before I reach the point of defeat, before I lose any more of my positive energy, before I get sick, I’m taking a sick day.
And my list of errands for today looks something like this:
Actually, it looks more like this:
- Drop kids off at school.
- Pick up latte at Starbucks.
- Go home.
- Read, nap, journal, and binge-watch something.
- Go for a long walk.
- Pick up kids.
My other to-do list will remain long, but today I am choosing rest over busy. I attach urgency to far too many tasks. Culling the mountain of toys? Not urgent. Creating our 2021 family yearbook? Not urgent. Re-organizing the kitchen cupboards? Totally not urgent. Returning regretable purchases? Welllll…no, not urgent.
Those tasks will always be there, ready for me to tackle when the timing makes sense – when my headspace won’t suffer for it. When I’m not already feeling compressed. Which is not today.
Today’s preventative sick day will be dedicated to stillness and calm and space to expand. I’m not very good at just taking up space, but today that is the game plan.
Busy is a choice. Why do so many of us choose it when it leaves us depleted?
More importantly: does anyone have any binge-worthy show recommendations?