Americans are known for giving priority to work above play. A typical American works 40 plus hours each week to accrue a one to two week vacation per year. America is built on an individualistic class system,whereby those who have money are given higher respect and priority in life than those who have none. Materialism with an expectation that those who earn more, spend more is the way of life. Further, most Americans are judgmental towards those who have less than they do. This country has more homeless people living on the streets than most other countries. We view the homeless as helpless individuals and give them no respect as a human being. Our country does little if anything to help the poverty stricken in our country to have a better life. Moral of the story: those who have do, those who don’t have do not.
As part of our ongoing effort to achieve more and have more, Americans take very little time off. As a passenger on an airplane, one of the first things the flight attendant tells us as part of the safety talk is should the oxygen mask appear, please take care of putting it on yourself first before helping others. Why? This is not meant as a selfish save yourself first move, rather it is for you to provide the self care you need most at a critical time so that you have the strength and oxygen left to help others.
Why don’t we apply this same tip to our daily life? How can we expect to function with all 4 cylinders 100% of the time if we work so hard that we wear ourselves down? When we lose steam, how effective are we really at our job, or even at home with our significant other and children? One cannot expect to give 100% of ourselves 24/7 without some kind of inevitable breakdown forthcoming. As worker bees, it can be challenging to find some down time to make this happen. One must be willing to compromise and change one’s schedule to take better care of ourselves on a daily basis.
It’s important not only to practice self-care on a daily basis, but it is also important to take the time to enjoy life. Life is not meant to be lived running from one treadmill to another, rather it is meant to find a balance in one’s life to work as well as have a life we love.
Everyone has different priorities in life. Some work extra hard to support ones lifestyle, family, and self. While others work hard just to make ends meet. Whatever your priority in life, there needs to be a balance so that one can work hard, and have time for extra activities.
Finding the balance and changing one’s priorities is the first step. Make a list of what is important to you in life. Break down the time involved so that you can find at least 30 minutes each day for leisure activity. Create a time line that allows you to ‘have it all’ in the course of a week. Some days, you may have more time than other days. Whatever your priorities are, make them happen weekly.
Funding one’s vacation or leisure activities may be harder than finding the time to make it happen. I am a huge fan of Starbucks latte’s, however, I know that if I buy a latte 5 days per week I will have spent approximately $25. If I cut back and only treat myself to a latte once per week, then I have an extra $20 to put away into my vacation/leisure fund. Find ways to make it happen, commit yourself, and you will soon have a growing fund. Enlist the help of your children into this game. Show them the power of putting pennies in a jar to then take it to your bank for hard cash. Let your children do something fun with all their penny saving money!
Finally, find time for yourself each and every day. Finding the time to relax or take a nap helps soothe the soul and allow you to mentally and physically unwind. The less depleted you are daily, the more you have to give to your job, your family, and yourself. We all deserve and need a mental break to keep our momentum going. Look in the mirror, and tell yourself daily that you deserve a break, and then do something nice for yourself!