It took me years of feeling overwhelmed in January and feeling like I was failing miserably in the New Year before I realized what I was doing it all wrong.
We celebrate the new year on January 1st and we rush into the month with resolutions and fuzzy plans for the new year. But after spending most of the month of December preparing for and celebrating the holidays, does it truly make sense that, like switching on and off a light, we try to face an entire new year in a space of 24 hours?
I have enjoyed many New Year celebrations and, over the years, I have tried all sorts of ways to deal with the emotional roller coaster that follows during the first month of the year. What I have found is that it is better to think of this time as a season of sweeping out the previous year, rather than the beginning of a new one. Now, of course, you have things to do in January that are part of the new year and that you can’t avoid. You still have to put the correct year on your checks and, if you work for pay, your job is in its first quarter of the New Year. But, psychologically – especially for your personal life – it is best to think of this time as a season of reflection and preparation.
“People let me tell you I work hard every day I get up out of bed, I put on my clothes ‘Cause I’ve got bills to pay Now it ain’t easy, but I don’t need no help I’ve got a strong will to survive I’ve got a deeper love, deeper love inside.”
We are now deep in the winter doldrums, when some mornings it is tough to just get out of bed in the morning, let alone get to work. Even without the political turmoil of our times and uncertainty of our future, it is a difficult time of year to find motivation to get moving.
I noticed that there was little talk of New Year’s resolutions and I think that is because we would all just like things to go back to “normal.” I am not sure that we can go back, but I do know we can move forward. It will, however, take more courage and perseverance than “normal.”
The next few posts I am working on will drop some of the “heavy” science and philosophy stuff I have been talking about lately and focus more on practical and mental health issues that we face at the beginning of a new year. I, myself, have lived through times that only a strong desire to overcome my situation was the only thing that got me up in it the morning. I would not stop fighting for a life of my own.
Your life is worth fighting for – now – this moment, this day. Don’t let these difficult times let you forget that.
I think one of the worst things that happened to this generation of workers was that, because of high unemployment, they were mistreated with terrible working schedules. I think the pay problem has been covered extensively, but the brutal changeover of shifts, sometimes with less than 10 hours turnaround, and very few days off have led to all kinds of physical and mental problems.
You can’t keep working without a fixed schedule and have a balanced healthy life. You can’t sleep well, sleeping at different times of the day is very difficult. Also, it’s hard to find a way to eat and exercise properly.
In the ’70s and ’80s, there were studies done that showed shift hour changes made people unproductive and unhealthy. Back then, shift schedules were made on a weekly or monthly basis. Today, shift changes can occur within the same week, often multiple times a week. I find it unconscionable that this isn’t considered worker abuse. This may be the new 24/7 work week, but it’s inhumane.
For those in this situation, you need to find a job with steady hours and you need to insist on them whenever and wherever you can. People need stability in their life and one of them is a set time to go to work and a set time to take care of themselves and their family. It’s bad enough that it’s getting harder and harder to celebrate holidays or have a single day off that everyone else has.
Blue laws also known as Sunday laws, are laws designed to restrict or ban some or all Sunday activities for religious or secular reasons, particularly to promote the observance of a day of worship or rest. Blue laws may also restrict shopping or ban sale of certain items on specific days, most often on Sundays in the western world. Blue laws are enforced in parts of the United States and Canada as well as some European countries, particularly in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Norway, keeping most stores closed on Sundays. (Wikipedia)
People were so happy when the Blue Laws were lifted in all the states so that they could go shopping on Sundays. Has it really made life better? With all those stores and businesses open on Sunday it meant other people had to work on Sundays to fill all those jobs. Now it seems most people are working on Sundays, except at Chick Fil’a. And now you want it open, don’t you?
“People who work night shifts or varied schedules that disrupt their sleep may be more likely to develop depression than individuals with 9-to-5 jobs, a research review suggests.” Shift work tied to poor mental health (Reuters)
I doubt we can turn back time to recapture that single day off together, but we can work towards making it happen. There would be many personal hurdles. For one, you might be at the time of your life where you need to work a difficult schedule because this is the career you’ve chosen and there isn’t another path. Or you are working off debt and have no choice. These are priorities and I am speaking more to people with established careers and managers.
Does it matter anymore what day we take off, so long we take it off together? I believe it restore a sense of community. It seems like a small, yet impossible thing to do, but I think that if you can pull it off for yourself, your family and others in your circle you would begin to see an improvement in your relationships. It’s worth trying.