You wake up at 5:30 a.m. so that you can be in the office by 7:00 a.m. As you’re getting dressed, you briefly check your phone and see emails from the night before with the “high importance” flag. You haven’t even had your cup of coffee or tea yet, but already your to-do list for the day is growing. It’s now 9:00 a.m., and that granola bar you started eating an hour ago is still sitting on your desk. Emails are coming in, the deadline is nearing, and your to-do list seems to have no end.
For most of us, this is our daily reality. At some point throughout our lives, our career ends up dictating how we live. We schedule any personal activity around our work schedule and some of us don’t even have much of a personal life. That’s just not healthy. Trust me, I understand how important a career is. Being the son of two immigrant parents from Central America, I know very well the importance of working hard and being successful. That doesn’t mean that our career should come first above all else. On the contrary, our well-being should be the number one concern.
I don’t mean just your physical health but also your mental and emotional health. During my time in college, I worked as a crisis counselor helping our youth with any mental and emotional issues. A job like that is very taxing on your own mental and emotional health, so I was trained to always put myself first. By that I mean, don’t take the job home with you. When your workday is over that means it’s time for you. All the stress of work, deadlines, meetings or anything that occurs at your job will still be there in the morning.
Within a 24-hour day, we spend eight hours sleeping and eight hours working. You already have a 16-hour time slot dedicated to work and sleep, leaving you with only eight hours for yourself. That doesn’t include the time spent traveling to and from work or possibly time spent at the office after hours. So, you may possibly only have six hours for yourself. Take full advantage of that time by:
- Going for a walk
- Calling loved ones
- Listening to your favorite music or song
- Grabbing dinner with a friend
- Playing with your pet(s)
- Spending quality time with your family and children
This list can go on forever but what’s important to take away is this: SPEND TIME ON YOURSELF. Integrating too much of your work life into your personal life can become extremely toxic. According to the American Psychological Association, work-related stress can cause short-term problems like stomachaches, headaches, sleep disturbances, short-temper and difficulty concentrating. The APA also states that chronic stress can cause anxiety; insomnia; high blood pressure; and a weakened immune system, along with depression, obesity and heart disease. A lot of us tend to deal with work stress in an unhealthy manner such as eating fast food, abusing drugs and alcohol, or taking it out on our loved ones.
It’s crucial to find healthy alternatives when attempting to deal with work stress. Professional football players put their bodies under massive amounts of stress during every game they play, but they know the importance of letting their bodies recover so they will be at their full potential for the next big game. Even if we’re not professional football players, we still need to let our bodies recover daily. Once you fall into a routine of taking care of yourself, you’ll notice that you become a lot more focused at work, ideas begin to flow from your mind, and that deadline that’s been weighing you down feels lighter.
Our staff at Stokes is always working hard for our clients, but we also work equally as hard to ensure that we are as healthy as we can be, simply by being a unified support system for each other. It’s our dedication and love for the work we do that reminds us to always take care of ourselves so that we can give Stokes – and our clients – our absolute best. Now if you’ll excuse me please, as I’m being called over to play some soccer with my son.
-Jairo Martinez (Public Outreach Specialist)