I know you can't see me and all - except for that exceptionally scary mugshot off over to the side there - but if you could, it probably wouldn't take you long to realize that I'm a very bad relaxer.
What I mean to say is that I'm famously not good at sitting still.
You know those folks who can lie on an oceanside beach chair for hours, getting lost in a really good novel and sipping, um, lemonade all day? Yeah, PK's not one of them.
I can sit for precisely 84 seconds before the mental tidal wave hits me: I should be checking my work email, doing laundry, getting my daily run in, working ahead for next week's team meeting ... whoosh! Just like that, I'm on my feet and outta there.
Seriously, I tried yoga once ... for eight minutes. During that eternity of "focused meditation," I was so irritated by thoughts of how I could and should be spending the time that I got up and cold-cocked the instructor. She just kept breathing deeply.
Yes, friends, even when I'm on vacation - where, obviously, I've clearly brought my laptop, iPad and BlackBerry - I just can't seem to completely power down.
And when I'm actually in the office I allow myself very little non-productive time. This includes eating at my desk and emailing while enroute to meetings. I draw the line at bringing the laptop into the restroom. Well, most of the time.
Indeed, my buddy Christine Ruggieri of Warren and I always tease that our lives are so crazy busy that we don't even have time to cut our toenails.
Do you know my laptop actually flung itself shut on my fingers yesterday in protest?
Have you caught that scene in the recent Sarah Jessica Parker flick "I Don't Know How She Does It" where the full-time working Mom sends the email intended for her best friend to her new client and vice versa? Totally did it the other day - sent Kyle (my son) a text meant for Kerry (my hubby).
Luckily, no taboo subjects were addressed, but holy close calls, Batman!
Yep, it seems that America is not only the land of the free and the home of the brave but also the birthplace of the burnout. According to a study recently released by the folks who run the CareerBuilder website, here is some data to support my theory:
- The American worker has the least vacation time of any modern, developed society. What the what? Aren't we the same country that invented the La-Z-Boy?
- Thirty-three percent of workers said they check in with the office while on vacation. Well, um, sure.
- One-half of workers report they feel a great deal of stress on the job. Naw. Ya think?
- Forty-four percent of working moms admit to being preoccupied about work while at home and one-fourth say they bring home projects at least one day a week. True story - tremendous guilt about that, BTW.
- Nineteen percent of working moms reported they often or always work weekends. More guilt for yours truly.
The reality is this: we are all zipping around at light speed. But how long can we burn the candle at both ends before we end up engulfed in a complete supernova?
If you're so tired that you forget how to log on to your computer; so busy that you don't have time to even update your "to do" list; or are so overwhelmed that you've considered how much more restful it would be if you were in jail instead of your office, you may be dangerously close to complete breakdown mode.
Only you can give yourself permission to unplug and go dark once in a while. Why don't you just sign off on that request?
I mean, your smartphone won't work if you don't recharge its battery, why should you? And look, no one's got "More work-induced stress" on their bucket list, right?
So do what I did (and do). Pray. A lot. Often.
It'll do wonders to remind you that your work, while crucial, is no match for that family waiting for you at home.
Stop. Sit. Breathe. And smile.
Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist, mom, wife, daughter, friend, aunt, cousin, full-time PR professional, homemaker, runner, chauffer, and um, she can't remember what else. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.