Work and Money
The Pandemic Work-Life Balance Doesn't Exist
This post is part of a monthlong August series in which we asked writers to share their wellness tips with us to celebrate National Wellness Month.
I have always been a “yes” person. I say yes to new work projects when I’m already stretched for time. I say yes to helping friends out when I really should clean my house. I say yes to social outings when I just want to watch Friends and snuggle my orange cat. I say yes to educational opportunities when my brain can’t handle any more info.
I say yes when I should say no. The truth is, there’s an art to saying no — and it’s something that we should all practice more often.
When the COVID-19 crisis struck the U.S., I realized my lifestyle wasn’t sustainable. I realized I was spending too much time appeasing other people and not enough time caring for myself. I’m a wellness professional, and I wasn’t living well at all.
For me, the fact that life won’t return to “normal” is a good thing. As the novel coronavirus reared its ugly head, I came to a beautiful conclusion: I do not have to do everything or be everywhere all the time. I can relax. I can take deep breaths. I can slow down.
Post-Pandemic Work-Life Balance?
As our world keeps shifting into a post-coronavirus world, I know one thing will remain the same for me: I’ll stop trying to please others at the expense of myself. I’ll prioritize sleep and rest over hyper-productivity. I’ll say no when I don’t have the time to do something (or simply when I don’t want to do something).
Learning how to say no also helped me realize something rather counterintuitive: When I do fewer things, I actually end up being more productive. The quality of my work is better; I pay attention to the details, and I get things done quickly. Instead of doing it all, I do better.
It may have taken the emotional weight of a global pandemic for me to set boundaries, but those boundaries are firmly in place now, and I can move forward into our post-pandemic normal knowing that it’s okay to ask for help and to say no — no explanation needed.
I hope the COVID-19 crisis has helped other yes-people — people like me, who always felt the need to please. I hope that for the burned-out professionals, the tired moms, and the overworked dads, there is a silver lining called “no.”