Self-Care Sunday: Because Weekends Were Made for Fun
Jumping music, slick deejays, fog machines and laser rays
Lookout weekend 'cause, here I come
Because weekends were, made for fun…
I work hard, everyday, it's all work and no play
With the boss on my back, he don't give me any slack
I sit down, I daydream of how my weekends gonna be…
By the time Wednesday comes, I feel the beat and I wanna have fun…
–Debbie Deb “Lookout Weekend”
On my weekend days this past week I felt miserable. Miserable because I had to force myself to get out of bed while I had an intense sinus headache due to the ongoing rain outside (and probably because my boyfriend made my drink a little too strong lol). I had to make soap. I had an order to fill. After a failed batch and two days of really not feeling well, my safety net of time was over, and if I didn’t get it done on my days off, I would be even more behind. At the end of my “weekend” there was no real fun to be had as singer Debbie Deb spoke of. I was tired and just wanted to lay down. I had pushed myself too far AGAIN. But at least I realized it.
My weekends were made for fun when I was just fooling around in my soap lab. But all fun and games ended the moment it became work. And while I didn't mind the work, I did mind that I spent my only real free time from my 9-5 working on my business. Plus, most of last week I spent 2-3 hours each day in the shop after my 9-5. In essence I worked for a whole week straight without any breaks, even after work. That is enough to make anyone exhausted. And when you don't have a "normal" weekend like everyone else, it is harder to schedule "fun time" and feel like you're actually off. And when you have a business, it's even more difficult to draw those boundaries. Fortunately I don't also have the added balance of caring for a family (more power to those of you who are also doing a balancing act). My dark decent into no-rest days was a gradual process. First increasing the amount of time that I started working on my days: a couple of hours here and there. Then an entire day ballooned into the whole two days.
No matter how many commitments I have, one thing always remains clear: maintaining that balance is difficult, if not nearly impossible at times. Luckily for me, after burning out in the past, I stop well before my engine runs out of fuel. I stop when my life shows a glimmer of distress, as I know it can be the tip of the iceberg for bigger issues later. Over time I have trained myself to watch for the signs, the often minuscule things that happen with my attitude, how I am spending my time, and my energy levels, in order to avoid any sort of burn out. Now that my friends are aware of my quest for balance, they are the ones who even scold me. If you don't realize when you need to recharge yourself and you don't have people who hold you accountable, you automatically set yourself up for burnout.
So how do you maintain the balance between your 9-5, business/extracurricular activities, relationship, family, education, etc?
- Give yourself extra time to do everything.When possible, build in an extra time cushion. For example, instead of my shipping being 1-3 day, I have moved it out to 3-5 days, which gives me some buffer time. Also, unlike in the past, I now try to prep for in-person events weeks in advance so that I am not trying to get everything together at the last minute. I made a list of things I needed to accomplish weeks ago.
Purposefully building in a cushion will give you the time and space for last minute unplanned things that would compete for your time. It also gives you breathing room just in case you fall ill or you need a mental health day. I used to be the biggest procrastinator, but now I realize that planning with extra time leaves me less stressful and feeling less exhausted. If you feel like it is impossible to build in the extra time, honestly, you are probably doing too much, you have made too many commitments, and/or you don't have your priorities in order. You may freak out about your goals be extended longer than you hoped for, but think of it this way: you will still be alive and well to complete them and enjoy the fruits of your labor versus being completely burned out and not being able to accomplish anything.
- Schedule everything, even rest time.In addition to building a cushion into your schedule, be intentional about scheduling your times of rest and play. Sometimes it is simply not possible to have an entire weekend. How can you build in half-days? Four-hour chunks that are just your time to rest, unwind, and really enjoy the life you have built and are building? Again, this means that some things are going to be delayed a little longer, but you have to remember the old saying: life is a marathon, not a sprint. You have you pace yourself. You don't want to burn all of your energy at the beginning and have no strength to enjoy it in the end.
There is this cultural falsehood that says we must be busy all of the time, working 24/7, etc as entrepreneurs, as partners, as parents, as employees, etc, but what they don't tell you is that living a life where you are constantly in motion will cause you the miss out on what is important, and really indulge in all that you have worked for. I used Google calendar like a religion when I was going to grad school full-time, engaged in a long-distance relationship, working a part-time job, AND doing internship hours. Even before I began my semester, I made sure that my work and class schedule allowed for rest and adequate study time. It was the only way I kept sane. The only thing that was missing was built-in rest. You can balance your commitments wonderfully but ultimately break them all if you do not continuously petition yourself to rest.
- Be honest.Be honest to others about your time. When I was going to grad school full-time I warned my family that I would see a lot less of them and that I would unfortunately miss some of the family gatherings. May of them were not pleased with it, but they respected my time for the most part. Most importantly be honest with yourself. For example, I am a slow reader, even when I attempt to speed read. It took me a couple of years of grad school to realize that I needed to give myself twice the amount of time that I thought I needed in order to be able to complete my reading. This not only made my planning more realistic, but I was also more productive because I gave myself more realistic time constraints.
In addition to rest, make sure you have FUN! Laughter and rest is the best medicine to get you motivated and re-energized to accomplish all that you have set out to do. How do you maintain the balance in your life?
The Body Buffet creates handmade artisan soap, shampoo, conditioners, spa bars, beard care, body wash and more for Baltimore, the DMV, and beyond. We have been creating conditioning skin-loving, hair-loving, since 2009. Visit our shop at www.thebodybuffet.com. Marquita Johl is the soaper-in-chief and a self-care advocate. She has been crafting soap for eleven years.