It was an average Wednesday morning at the office. The phone was ringing off the hook, email alerts were going off constantly, and I kept getting interrupted by co-workers who actually needed something from me and those who just wanted to chat. My brain was fried by 11:00am. Barely halfway through the work week I knew I needed a break.
That day instead of running an errand or scarfing down a quick meal during lunchtime, I took a walk. I needed to clear my head, and remind myself that work stress is not worth anything in the grand scheme of things. Nobody ever hands you a “Stress Excellence” award because you were the most stressed-out employee. So why let it get the best of me? The work will get done; it always does.
Working in a suburb along the North Shore of Chicago offers a few benefits. The streets aren’t usually as crowded because anyone who needs to get anywhere usually drives which meant that I had them all to myself. Also my office is just about a mile from Lake Michigan so walking there within a lunch hour is easily doable.
I was craving variety so I took a different route than I normally do. Anyone who lives in the Chicagoland area knows that if you just keep heading east, you’ll hit “The Lake” eventually. I came across this small, picturesque park sandwiched between two, large, condo buildings and felt immediately cured of my weekday drudgery. There were large oak trees, a couple of benches, and amazing views of the lake. It was just what I needed to get me through the rest of the day.
As Americans we often put a lot of emphasis on how hard we work and how many hours we put in. It’s become a point of pride to say that you worked 60 or 70 hours in a given week. The U.S. also takes the least amount of vacation time compared to most other countries. Our society nearly mandates how much work is socially acceptable in order to warrant a vacation.
For me whatever job I have or will ever have will not be the only thing that defines me. We are more than just whatever our job title is. Sometimes we need a reminder of this even if it’s as simple as taking a walk around the block.