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  • Lyn Reed

When Work Stops

What happens when people stop working?

Sooner or later most people find themselves having to take time off work for a variety of reasons. Even if we love our job, there are probably going to be times when we would like to have a break and do nothing. Conversely, when we find ourselves having a break, we probably have a strong desire to get back to work.

In a world in which work is 24/7, fast paced and relentless, we may be worried that others will judge and criticise us for not working. It can be hard to acknowledge within ourselves that we can be idle. But when our own view differs from the worldview, we tend to keep our indolence hidden, for fear of being shamed. We intend to keep our busy public persona going at all costs.

When I was in therapy some years ago having struggled and succumbed to work-related stress, my therapist gave me this simple guidance: ‘Just be’. I needed someone to give me permission so I could give myself the permission being off work ‘is OK’.

That first step of being compassionate towards myself was vital. I came to realise the efforts to live up to the high standards I had tried to maintain (which were not sustainable) played a significant part in my subsequent depression and anxiety.

Now that the pandemic crisis has enforced many of us not to work (or change the way we work) it can provide an opportunity to press the reset button.

This period of adjustment can help us to discover the resources within ourselves to do things other than work; to relax both mind and body.

And to tell our inner selves ‘it is ok just to be’. Repeat. Reset.

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