An inner athlete's manifesto.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Over-Worked: How to Take Care of Yourself When Your Job Holds Your Sanity Hostage

It was Day 10 of 12 straight days of work at the bar. This job can drive a person bananas, and I was about ready to lose it. Long hours on your feet and nights spent only thinking about what you might not be too tired to accomplish before the next day of work can be daunting. I was wondering, "How can I train for a marathon without proper time and rest?"

And then it hit me--REST.

Long work hours in addition to the pressure you feel when you begin a new workout program is stressful. Skipping a workout can make you feel guilty and sometimes even more sluggish. But the most important thing to remember is YOU.

I definitely forgot me last week. Even though I was somehow keeping up the bare minimum  amount of running needed to hold my last thread of sanity intact, the fact that I gave up so much "me" time for work left me feeling frustrated and angry. Running this marathon is one of the most important things in my life, and how dare I let stress and work get in the way.

We all know the importance of learning to say no, but when your work circumstances simply won't allow it, then what?

I took it to the streets. Well, the streets in Central Park. On Day 10, I decided enough is enough. I had three hours to kill before a long night shift. I used a hot, humid day to my advantage and told myself that I was going to see how far I could run for 30 minutes and not stay out in that heat another minute. I had a really good run, sans ipod, sans expectations. After a cold shower, I took my lunch and my towel to the park and relaxed in the grass before work. The next day, my body was exhausted, and I was short for time. I returned to the park with a book instead of my running shoes, and took 40-minute mental health break. After jotting down some thoughts and ideas, I started my day at work with a fresher outlook.

Some days, you will have to make a choice between your mental health and physical health. Even though any sort of exercise will boost endorphins, if your body is telling you no, a day of rest never hurt anyone. In fact, your muscles are actually taking time to repair themselves so they can work harder for you in the future. Don't forget that your body has a job it needs to do, too, and that it is smart enough to do on its own as long as you give it the proper tools (rest and nourishment). But it is up to YOU to stay mentally healthy, and if you don't take care of your mind, your body will eventually suffer. So read that book or magazine. Do a crossword. Chill out with a movie. Call a friend. Whatever you do, DON'T beat yourself up for taking a rest day. We are all only human.

Don't think about how weak you are--think of how strong you are going to be. 
Michelle (Berry) Dougherty

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