Column: The Guru say ‘relax’ don’t do it’

Column: The Guru say ‘relax’ don’t do it’

By Julia Gall

As a first-time co-op, I was sure I had it made. I had an unpaid job two days a week, and job as a hostess to fill in the days I had free. The first two months were not bad – I actually enjoyed being on co-op and feeling like a working Bostonian. I was the master of my own destiny and in total control of my future.

Then people started talking about spring break and the warm-weather locales they were planning to visit. I thought to myself, I know it would be great to have a spring break, but it’s only one week out of the year, so it’s not a big deal. But while many students were sipping margaritas and getting sunburned, I was working a 52-hour week. 52 hours! I’m not trying to complain, but just to point out this is the most I’ve worked in my life, and I don’t get any break? I may have felt in total control of my future, but what about my sanity?

My trick is to use the little time I have off and make for a productive and satisfying free day.

On your day off, you absolutely have to get outside and do something. As satisfying as sleep is, it’s not worth it to spend your whole afternoon in bed. Instead, work on a better sleep schedule. Make a serious habit of going to bed early enough to catch eight hours, not settling for four or five. Being exhausted the next day at work won’t make you any less miserable about your job.

But what to do then? If you are so busy during the week that you just don’t have time to do errands, I suggest making a list of what you need to do when you have free time. I know how tempting it is to immediately sit down and watch all those shows you’ve Tivoed or catch up on Facebook for a few hours when you get home, but when you finally get chores done, you will feel a weight lifted off your back that undoubtedly has been adding to your stress.

After the errands, it’s all about you. I know working so much hardly allows you to see friends, let alone anyone our age, so “free time” might mean “party time.” If that’s what makes you happy, go for it, but I know after working I just need “me time.” Simply reward yourself with doing something you want to do, and worry about other people later. You deserve to relax by yourself for a minute.

But if you really want a reward in the true sense of the word, splurge. All the working has got you raking in some sort of cash, right? If you’re in the position to, maybe just once, you could splurge on something you normally wouldn’t if you were taking classes and not making the money you are now. Buy a fancy handbag, upgrade your iPod or relax with a spa massage. Though it’s materialistic, at least you know you’re working for something and it may make you happier.

If you are still missing social interaction, put that sick day you’ve been hoarding to use and have friends or family visit for a long weekend. I took this past weekend off to spend time with my visiting family who I hadn’t seen since New Year’s. We did fun things around the city that I wouldn’t have done on my own and got to relax with the people I love. Having them come to you is much easier than coordinating a trip, especially having to factor in traveling, which just takes away from your precious time off. Also, seeing a familiar face is sure to boost your morale.

For those who think classes are tough, co-op is tough in a different way. It’s tough because it does not stop. Preparing for a test can be stressful, but then it’s over. Co-op isn’t over until it’s all over. I know from experience, and I’m starting to lose it, but there are ways to repair your sanity: just relax.

– Julia Gall can be reached at [email protected]

Leave a Reply