Work-Life Balance or How Not to Collapse in a Heap

As you may (or, may not) have noticed, I’ve pretty much been MIA except for a couple of automatic posts I set up last weekend in a five minute period of calm.  That title up there…do you recall when it even entered our lingo? Work-Life Balance. Work used to be something you did between 8-5 PM or 9-6 PM if you were lucky and got to sleep in an extra thirty minutes, and then you forgot about it until the next day.  You had things like weekends and holidays, and took vacations!  If you worked Retail, your hours varied and covered weekends, but you got days off during the week instead.  And if you worked in the Hospitality Industry, sometimes you worked four days and made the money for a full week.

But slowly something has happened.  Maybe it is only happening in my field – IT. I used to work TWO jobs when younger, and I don’t think I worked as many hours as I am working at one job now.  I don’t think it is just my industry, because I see E-mails from clients all during the weekend too, which means they are working or thinking about work.  Since the advent of ‘always on’ availability for businesses, something drastic has happened. All those labor-saving devices touted in the 50’s and 60’s weren’t to gain more leisure time, they were to allow us to WORK more hours. Hah, silly us.

My job is normally pretty intense and my hours a bit above the norm – 45 to 50 hours generally.  But for the last three weeks we’ve been down two staff  members for two weeks, and then three staff members for a day here and there.  I happen to be the back up for all three of those folks. In addition to that little juggling act, one of my customers started up a Win 7 migration project.  Some days I’ve worked 13 straight hours without even a lunch break. If you are currently hourly – AVOID SALARY AT ALL COSTS! It’s like those labor-saving devices, a trick! Normally Exempt employees are managerial staff of some sort, but lots of employers bend that rule quite nearly until it breaks.

About a week or so ago, my body started showing signs of this short-term stress: higher blood pressure, irritability, insomnia and rashes.  Rashes are a LOT of fun during the full-bore heat and humidity that are the norm down South. I usually have a super-perky optimistic personality that irritates a lot of people  But suddenly I was snappy with everyone.  I think I even snapped at myself a time or two and we didn’t care for that.  Nutrition and brain supplementation has been a pet sideline interest (obsession) of mine for years and years.  I know what to do to be healthy.  So of course, I did all of that during this initial period, riiiiight?  Oh no.  I scarfed junk food, sugar and alcohol like it was tofu and broccoli. And I exercised for endorphin rush and stress release too, right?  Oh no.  I curled up in the fetal position in the dark on the weekends and slept 16 hours or more when I didn’t have family events calling for my attention.  I didn’t even want to walk the dog because that involved different clothing on top of said rash.  Hmph. Knowing what to do and doing it always seems to be a bit gap-resistant, ya know?

Finally last week I got a grip as the days kept running at 12-13 hours and did what I know is right to do. Supplement.  Eat right. Hydrate. Sleep well (no online reading at 1 a.m.). Exercise. Limit sugar and no alcohol at all. I’m quite a bit closer to normal function again, thankfully.  But it has really made me think quite a bit about what is the reason for this ‘work-life balance’ meme.  I haven’t had a creative thought one in I don’t know when. Writing had to take the hit during this time as I just couldn’t muster up any creativity.

What are we working towards? I personally know two people that have died at my job,; in addition, one under forty who collapsed at the airport en route to a customer site, two who have developed cancer, and two more with heart issues that aren’t hereditary.  Who wants to be gimpy, or worse, die before you make it to retirement??  What are the  prospects for retirement these days anyway, outside of military, federal and state employees?  Most places don’t seem to have a pension plan or retirement benefits other than your own 401K.  And with job-hopping being the norm, coupled with intermittent lay-offs, I wonder how many people still have their 401K intact? How did we get here? For someone like me in my fifties, the future often looks quite muddy, and on a bad day, rather bleak.  It is why I have been rushing to downsize and pay off the debt left from my husband’s early death.  But what about the rest of you? Is it more promising for you younger people?  Does anyone else ever wake up thinking “What the heck am I doing and why?”  How are you changing things – perspective or such?

Today I realized that I received several awards while I was in absentia and I really do appreciate them – I’m not ignoring you!  It’s just, I had to put a fence around me and the rest of the world as I muddle through this. It doesn’t appear to be letting up in the near future either :/ I want to thank everyone who continues to come by and visit and read and to ask you not to give up on me.  I’ll be back to writing more eventually.  In the meantime, I’d love to hear how any of my readers have dealt with these kind of things.  I am always willing to learn a thing or three.  

Ginormous hugs to everyone, and….keep on keepin’ on 🙂

Stressed but recovering ~SE.

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  21 comments for “Work-Life Balance or How Not to Collapse in a Heap

  1. September 12, 2014 at 8:44 PM

    I don’t work a ‘real’ job outside of motherhood, creating on space2live and running a household and I still feel like work and busy-ness never ends. I’ve noticed my kids feeling the pinch lately too. My high school freshman has hours of homework every night and on the weekends. He is sad because he never gets to do what he wants to do. His martial arts gym membership is money down the drain right now. Some people don’t know what to do with themselves when they are not busy. I am not one of those people.
    I hope your job lightens up. It’s depressing when there is no time for creativity and connecting. That’s what makes us want to get up in the morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. September 12, 2014 at 8:51 PM

    First off, raising children IS a real job lady!! So go easy there will ya?

    That’s terrible about our up-and-coming youth. How does one reflect, process, grow and stay in touch with their inner needs if they are go-go-go all of the time? Even though I appear as a go-getter, I am really a ‘marinater’ 🙂

    I’m hoping the job changes in the near future as well. It’s a tough market at my age to try and start all over again after nearly ten years in place. Hopefully it won’t get to that!

    Thanks for the feedback Bren.

    Like

  3. September 12, 2014 at 9:55 PM

    Well…….different jobs do drain us in different ways-physically, mentally, emotionally. I had to resolve not to bring a bunch of work home…try to live in each moment-and breathe. Fortunately, I love my job, and my after school mommy job…so it all runs together. Housework sits on the back burner most of the time-particularly , clothes…I can’t seem to keep them put away…on the bright side, I have never had a day where I couldn’t find something to wear…so maybe that’s not really a problem…..

    Liked by 2 people

  4. September 13, 2014 at 12:32 AM

    Oh boy… do I hear you! I’m in my 50’s and on disability. I miss my career. Health problems have sidelined me and I think – deep down, I truly believe – I burned out, stressed out, worked too many hours and held the weight of the world on my shoulders (as others went home at 5 o’clock)… and my health suffered. I feel for you; especially the untimely passing of your husband. THAT, I cannot imagine, and my heart goes out to you. Work/Life balance should be taught to us in our earliest years… ie: pre-school. Take care, sweetie. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. September 13, 2014 at 1:58 AM

    Ginormous hugs to you too….I’ve been following you for quite some time now and I know you’ll come out of this stress phase soon !!!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. September 13, 2014 at 6:48 AM

    I don’t think I’ve ever put in as many hours as you have, but I’ve been so committed to the job and its pressures that I could not turn it off in my mind- sleep was interrupted by it, it was the first thought of the day (aside from ‘get this bladder emptied and refilled with Coffee!’), and it was a continuous hum in the background whenever I was not physically at the job. It took its toll – and I left that time suck job. I can tell you that the stress has relieved, but I carry the pressure with me – it’s part of my make-up.
    I think we have to find those things that roll the pressure off of our shoulders, be it jogging, gardening, dancing our happy little arses off, or other physical activity. Because only a firm physical break of that mental connection truly separates us from the background hum. Sadly, once you’ve been mentally sucked dry, you feel more physically wrung than if you’d scaled a mountain.
    It must be a conscious thing – we must just have to tell ourselves that we’re not truly wrung and get out there a be physical…
    ((jHugs)) I’m glad you’re taking care of you!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Willy Nilly
    September 13, 2014 at 7:58 AM

    I feel you. I’ve reached a point where my dynamic get up and go, got up and went. I’ve been salaried for 14 years and put in enough time for 2.5 careers but only got paid for one. Finally, my brain walked out on me and left me without any thoughts. I have to scare myself to get a heartbeat now. But I’m optimistic. My malaise is nothing 39 days of sleep and isolation from reality won’t cure :-). Hang in there and tell the boss to get a temp(s) in there or the digital toilet is going to back up and flood his/her office.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. September 13, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    I deal with stress exactly the way you did. Chocolate, ice-cream, chips, beer and the only sweet wine I found :)… The only part I couldn’t master yet is the 16hrs sleep… Or better said, I had the 16 hours counting the entire week.
    It can only get better 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  9. September 14, 2014 at 3:49 AM

    I’ve nominated you for two awards (and then I realized also Paul did it, well, you deserve them 🙂 )

    Liked by 2 people

    • September 17, 2014 at 9:26 AM

      Aww, Doted, thank you. I’ve been a real slacker on the blog while I try to find at least a new place to live that isn’t so far from work. Y’all are too kind. Once things settle down, I’ll have a lot to catch up with!! Thank you again. (hugs)

      Like

      • September 17, 2014 at 9:41 AM

        Don’t worry, concentrate in finding a nice place 🙂 (I know it’s hard!).
        Have a nice day!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. September 15, 2014 at 2:38 PM

    I hear what you’re saying. There’s a ‘joke’ in the industry I work in – If you drop dead, we won’t step ON you, we’ll step OVER you, at least until after deadline. Well a few years ago one of managers, who worked late shift hours, had a major stroke and was left slumped over his keyboard for hours because co-workers thought he was taking a nap. Thankfully he didn’t die. But he did quit his job, buy a caravan and he and his wife live simply and travel to their heart’s content. Life seems to be getting more and more demanding with lines between personal, social and work becoming very blurry. Glad you’re back and feeling better

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 17, 2014 at 9:28 AM

      Thanks. I’m still struggling, but taking each piece at a time. I’m hoping for head above water soon 🙂 My overwhelmed even got overwhelmed!

      If running away with a backpack were an ethical possibility, I’d have already been gone, trust me. I hope your situation is improving as well. I appreciate your kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. alfredsalmanac
    September 16, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    No-one will give up on you. Sometimes there are no words but, suffice to say: Be well and don’t give up. Remember the good times and know there are more to come. Best wishes. Paul :]

    Liked by 1 person

  12. September 18, 2014 at 8:20 PM

    I was on that dreadmill too, working as an HR Manager (don’t hate…I was the Good Witch of HR) for 65+ hours each week. I finally quit, ditched my pushy, awful husband, drastically downsized, drastically readjusted, did a bunch of soul searching, etc. Now I am happily employed in a call center, however my job is to respond to customer emails, not calls. Love the company, love my manager, love that people no longer hate on me and stop talking when I sit down to eat lunch, and love that I can cuss if I want and no one looks askance at me. I am thankful that “grabbing a backpack and running” was an option for me. Hang tough S!

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 19, 2014 at 9:13 AM

      How encouraging! And I am so happy for you that you found that ripe ground for contentment where you can bloom. Perhaps one day, for me too 🙂 Until then, may they always make quality coffee and black out curtains, lol! Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. September 23, 2014 at 7:04 PM

    We do have to take care of ourselves don’t we. Can’t keep pushing things beyond the limit forever. I would image we have all experienced time when everything seems like a drag, that the hardship will never come to an end. But eventually it does. Hang in there and take care of yourself. Good to here that you feel better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 28, 2014 at 10:00 AM

      I managed to get out with the camera for a little while yesterday, albeit only on the patio and in the alley. That helped immensely 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Otto.

      Like

  14. September 27, 2014 at 8:06 PM

    I don’t know how i managed to miss this post… Believe me — i relate and feel for you. Huge hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 28, 2014 at 10:02 AM

      Heh! I’ve missed so many posts it would take an entire day of nothing but WP rummaging to catch up, no worries! Hugs back 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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