While speaking with a co-worker during opening yesterday, he said something that very accurately summed up the current state of my life. “I feel like even on my days off, I don’t get days off.” I’m fairly certain I’m not the only person out here who empathizes with his sentiment.
If there is one environmental factor that is a fail-proof way to stress me out, it’s lack of time for myself. Call it selfish, call it only child syndrome, but in order to function at my best for myself and others, I need a certain amount of quality “me time.” It is in this area as of late where I am in a severe deficit and it’s really making me come unhinged.
Beginning this week I’ve started working a lot more and with the holidays approaching it’s going to be even busier for everyone. While work itself doesn’t bother me, it’s just losing that time and being forced to crunch all my other “necessaries” into the hours that should be reserved for much needed leisure and relaxation that is the issue. I believe it is healthy and essential for people to make time for things that bring them joy; burnout and depression are bore from having nothing to look forward to.
Now that I’m back in service my schedule has completely flip-flopped and my work day begins at 4pm and ends around 10pm. This means I must accomplish all my chores like cleaning house, laundry, gym, running errands, and groceries early in the day. While that schedule certainly has its perks, i.e. less people in the gym and store, banks are open, etc, it already feels like I’ve put in a full day’s work before I’ve even clocked in to do a full day’s work which is a little exhausting. And in order to fulfill all those duties prior to 2pm when I have to start getting ready for my shift, I have to begin around 8am, which means I have to come straight home, walk my dogs and go immediately to sleep.
Because of my late hours and busy days, I get no socialization time for friends or dating. So on my much needed 2 day breaks, I’ve found myself overscheduling with others I want to see and leaving no time for myself. This is where I’ve got to make time management a priority or I’m going to snap. Trying to schedule lunch dates, while inconvenient for my schedule, works ok for initial meetings with guys. But of course a second date is preferred in the evening or a weekend when they have more time and I cannot accommodate. So I try to schedule them on my days off, which means I’m sacrificing much needed time with my close friends who actually know me and aren’t just trying to get in my pants. Not to mention the time I’m sacrificing that belongs to me; I’ve lost every bit of that.
I’m a pretty social creature, but that becomes very draining. One of the things that keeps me sane is staying home and cooking a meal for myself, or creating a charcuterie smorgasbord on my coffee table while watching my favorite classic horror or comedy movies. I derive a great deal of mental relief from an evening at home in my most comfy sweats, letting my bare face marinate in moisturizer with a glass of wine and not feeling the burden of entertaining someone else. Especially now that I work at an expensive “occasion” restaurant where my sole purpose is to ensure my guests are having a memorable experience and are the star of the show over and over again.
So now that I’ve identified the problem, how am I going to solve it? I know I’m not alone in this frustration- honestly I don’t know how you people with children do it. I’ve found that making lists streamlines a lot of productivity, freeing up hours that might otherwise be wasted. When I come home at night is the perfect opportunity to manage my time. As I lay down to unwind in bed, instead of scrolling aimlessly on social media, I can examine and delegate my tasks- what didn’t get done today, what needs to be done tomorrow, and even what I can do to meet goals for the week, month or year. That way I wake up with a sense of purpose and a game plan, alleviating a lot of stress.
I also really need to prioritize who I’m allocating energy to. I’m clearly craving some sort of connection and companionship, but the reality is, most of these people aren’t compatible with me in the present moment, thus becoming just a succubus on my valuable time. I need to get to the bottom of who is actually aligned with my needs and is adding VALUE to my life and not STRESS. This assessment isn’t with the intention of being hurtful, it’s just at this time and age, I don’t have time to waste anymore. Once I clear up that space, I now have room for spending time with friends and family.
As for those precious days off alone, sometimes you just have to say no. You can’t be everything to everyone, especially when you’re the one in need of healing. It’s ok to politely decline invitations or bail on a non-pressing commitment in favor of prioritizing your own needs. That old saying about saving yourself first on the airplane or else you can’t save others still rings true for a reason; you can’t function at your best for those closest to you if you’re secretly drowning.
This plague of being overworked and stressed isn’t unique to me; I know to a degree most of us feel this way. With the holidays approaching at lightning speed, it might be a good idea for everyone to get a handle on inefficient hours and manage their time accordingly. For me at least, it’s a must at the top of my lengthy to-do list.