I’ve noticed over the years that the time I can most relax and decompress is when I am sick. Something about that scenario does not seem right, but I wonder if I am the only one that has that experience? I don’t think so. You see, in a fairly 24/7 hyper-connected world, there aren’t a lot of times we have permission to totally disengage. Everyone talks about it, but not a lot of people actually do it. We’re living in an era that can make you feel that if you’re not engaged, you’re dead. Professionally, anyway. Silence equals death.
I first noticed this phenomenon after a fairly grueling Academy Awards week years ago. I was working for a luxury watch brand and was responsible for promoting their placement on a variety of famous wrists over the various Oscar-week events, most notably on that infamous red carpet. I was also invited to attend the actual awards with my client, but by the time we went I was so burnt out I could barely appreciate it. In fact, I ducked out of the Vanity Fair party early with a well known photographer chiding me as I sprinted for the only taxi in LA: “Valerie, where are you going, you may never do this again!” Who cared? I was exhausted. I spent the following week in bed reading Lord Of The Rings, my unwashed Oscars ‘do assuming a life of its own. My boss was not happy, but I didn’t care. I had the flu and I could finally get a little peace and quiet.
Sound familiar? It’s a sad commentary on our ‘professional life’ when sickness becomes the respite we need to take a break. Yes, I know some of you are shaking your head, unwilling to admit that you too feel a morbid relief when you are too sick to make it into the office. But I know you’re not being honest. I’ve been around long enough to know the truth.
Here’s the thing: Take a break before it breaks you.
Small spots will do. During the workday walk away from your desk. Drink a tall glass of water, gaze out the window and capture a bit of sunshine. Just take a deep breath and remember that you are mortal, made of flesh and blood. You are not a robot and most of what matters right now won’t matter that much in 30 years, or maybe 30 minutes. Say goodbye to sickness and hello to life. You can do it. I know you can.