Thursday, April 25, 2013

Give It A Rest

Last week I flew home from a two week trip to the Middle East. It was a wonderful but exhausting trip full of busy days and lack of sleep due to time changes and such. The second to last night of my trip, I flew from Istanbul to Dubai, landing at 1:30 AM and checking into my hotel around 3 AM. Twenty four hours later, my flight home took off at 3 AM. That's right, AM not PM. Thanks to the numerous screaming babies on the plane (and worse, the parents who screamed back at their kids instead of trying to calm them, making it doubly loud) I slept maybe three hours total, in 20- minute intervals, on the 13-hour flight back. My flight landed at 8:30 AM New York time, which was 4:30 PM Dubai time, meaning that I'd more or less been up for about 33 hours.

My jet recovery plan was simple - do a whole lot of nothing the day that I got back, as I knew my schedule for the rest of the week was pretty non-stop. But instead of nothing, I came home and unpacked my whole suitcase, cleaned, did laundry, went to my corner cafe and caught up on emails, folded laundry, picked up some groceries, made my to do lists for the rest of the week, and didn't go to bed until about 10 or 10:30 PM - which according to my body clock still on Middle East time felt like 5 or 6 AM. While none of these tasks seem especially grueling, they aren't particularly restful, which is really what I needed.

I continued through the rest of my week full of business and personal appointments and gatherings, not getting caught up on sleep whatsoever and diving right back into life. But now, my dizzy spells, which managed to disappear for about three weeks, have returned. I've spent the last two days feeling rather out of it, weak, and just not myself. I'm convinced I over-extended myself, instead of giving myself a break. Now it might seem silly that one needs to give themselves a break upon returning from vacation, but I did. Travel, jet lag, changes in climate and diet can take their toll, and you need to allow yourself to adjust. And this just doesn't just go for travelling.

We tend to push ourselves to extreme. I once sat in an airport listening to two business men compare how many hours they'd worked on how little sleep, each trying to one-up each other. It was ridiculous. I feel like our society puts entirely too much pressure on us to be super woman (man), continually increasing our work and responsibilities while decreasing our sleep, meal times, and time for ourselves and loved ones. People may think that this results in increased productivity, but in reality it results in burnout - physical, emotional, mental. It's up to us to say "no" and give ourselves the time that we need to keep healthy in each of these aspects. So next time you feel like your day-to-day life should be set to the Benny Hill theme song (if your'e too young to remember it, here you go), take a couple of minutes and jot down some ways, and times, that you can give yourself a little break. Look at all those things on your to do list - do they have to be done today? What will be the consequences if they are not? Realistically, is it worth running around with barely enough time to take a breath, let alone a meal, to avoid those consequences?

I'm curious - when was the last time you really allowed yourself a break? What did you do? How did you feel afterwards? 

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