One day, I was particularly stressed out. I was getting text messages and phone calls to my personal phone from work people. This is in addition to being double- and triple-booked for a whole week, and I was going crazy and seriously losing it.  I was angry and frustrated and just not being very nice.  This is not my regular personality so I knew I had reached the end of my rope and I was about to explode on somebody.

So as I often do, I decided to write instead of explode.

And I started reflecting on why I reach this point of burnout so much more regularly and frequently in the US compared to other places I’ve lived.

What is it about US culture that has led me to be so burned out? 

I let my mind wander to previous places I’ve lived.  I was working hard in those places too, mind you.  But somehow my lifestyle and workplace and the culture around me were such that I was less susceptible to hitting that breaking point.  I remembered the self-care that is so accessible and available and affordable and expected in other cultures. Getting manicures, foot massages and blowouts regularly were times to relax and zone out, ways to unplug, while someone else took care of me.

I remembered work emails that stopped after 6pm on weekdays. Emails that were never were sent on weekends because all of my colleagues were spending time with family and friends during those hours.  I recalled having time to read a book in the sunshine or go for a stroll by the river because hired help was affordable. I wasn’t spending my Saturdays running errands and trying to catch up on everything that I’d fallen behind on.

And I started wondering why it was so difficult to do those things in the US.  It’s not just the accessibility and availability and affordability (although those things are real).  I find that it’s more about our culture.

Our culture in the US seems to demand that we never stop or slow down – that we rush through current things we are doing in order to get to the next things we are supposed to be doing. 

And I started wondering what would happen if instead, we decided to stop, to unplug, and to let ourselves indulge in this one amazing life without feeling guilty. Take a look at “Four Fun Ways To Unplug From Work Without Feeling Guilty And A Plea For Everyone” here.