Whenever someone worked overtime, it was common to hear beaming superiors reacting by showering them with compliments on their willingness to sacrifice personal time and praising them for their positive work ethic.
On the other hand, it was rare to hear from bosses encouraging me and my colleagues to take more days off, even after periods of extremely high workload.
This was the situation four years ago when I started working in patient care in healthcare.
Over time, I realized that it had become ingrained in me that someone who puts work first and continues to work beyond normal working hours is considered a “good worker”.
Although the work was meaningful, what drained my soul and increased my level of stress and irritability was the fact that I had to work most weekends, as well as the 28 hour night calls that are common in the industry.
To make matters worse, I don’t have a separate work phone and use the same contact number for personal and business use, which has become a constant regret.
There have been many occasions where I have had to answer a colleague’s work question late at night, seeking clarification of patients’ conditions and plans. This sometimes interrupted the rest I needed to recharge for the next day.
I can’t count the number of nightmares I’ve had involving myself being overwhelmed by numerous patients waiting to be admitted, only to wake up drenched in a cold sweat.
Working to the bone in this way, I unknowingly began to neglect myself and my social relationships, and my physical and mental health suffered.
Initially, I coped by suppressing my feelings, as many other co-workers work as hard as I do, with shifts as long as mine. I felt like I shouldn’t complain about the situation that I couldn’t change.
But from time to time, I would tell my friends about my exhaustion, especially those who were patient enough to lend an attentive ear.
At that point, the mental and physical exhaustion made me feel like I was probably exhausted. I felt like a candle melting under the immense workload and the hours imposed on me, with no hope of extinguishing the fire.
Some of my friends also noticed it when I missed some gatherings I used to attend. I was in no mood to go out and have fun.
What changed for me was when I came across a speech by Kevin O’Leary, a Canadian businessman and panelist on the TV show Shark Tank. It was titled “Why I Don’t Believe in Hiring Workaholics,” which he posted on his Facebook.
According to O’Leary, the life of a workaholic leads to burnout. That’s why he always asks someone what they do in their free time before hiring them, because successful people need a balanced life to work optimally.
I was initially surprised that a capitalist and investor like him would value work-life balance more than hard work, but I began to understand why self-care was so important. to succeed.
With a new understanding of the perils of a workaholic life, I began trying to find balance in my life from May to August.
A friend of mine, passionate about the concept of mindfulness, recommended that I try yoga as a way to find well-being and balance in body and mind.
Some of my other close friends, on the other hand, didn’t think I could stick to a yoga routine because they thought my fast-paced lifestyle was just antithetical to a yogic life.
Not knowing how yoga could help me, I was nonetheless determined to make efforts to reverse my exhaustion and seek a more mindful way of living.
I was quickly drawn to aerial yoga after some research, due to its visual appeal and diverse forms. It is a form of yoga that uses fabrics suspended in the air to perform yoga routines.
For over two months I trained and practiced doing backbends, poses, inversions and drops from a silk cloth or trapeze. Sometimes I even did back-to-back classes on the same day.
Once I started, there was no turning back.
ACQUIRED NEW PERSPECTIVES ON WORK
Although I was initially skeptical, I began to discover several life lessons from my yoga classes.
For example, aerial hanging postures, such as the Inverted Buddha Pose, showed me how to achieve a sense of healing and inner peace as the action of hanging upside down calms and clears my mind.
My theory is that because such a posture encouraged me not to focus on my surroundings for fear of losing my balance. Instead, I closed my eyes, focused on myself and every breath I took.
It was a revelation I needed, at a time when I was so concerned about how people might disapprove of the burnout and burnout I was going through.
This introspection allowed me to have a better relationship with myself, as well as engage in more positive self-talk instead of being distracted by the cacophony of the outside world.
I was also taught another breathtaking yoga move, which involves falling a certain distance after releasing my grip on the fabric, and allowing the fabric to safely catch me later.
Known as the Goddess Drop, this routine taught me to let go instead of trying to control the parts of my life that aren’t perfect. I didn’t always need to control every little thing, but rather let life take its course.
If I was less prepared for a conference presentation at work for example, thanks to the Goddess Drop, I now adopt a “better done than perfect” perspective, rather than blaming myself for not achieving the embodiment of perfection. .
More importantly, aerial yoga has taught me that making yourself a priority is perfectly fine.
I learned that taking care of your health is essential. As the saying goes, we cannot pour from an empty cup.
Although hard work is important, I now realize that overwork is short-sighted and leads to deep unhappiness and an unhealthy body.
In the future, I hope to continue to find a conscious balance between work and life, and perhaps undergo aerial yoga teacher training, exploring new routines and postures in an enjoyable way.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Alvona Loh Zi Hui is a young doctor working in a public hospital in Singapore.