Photo by Kaja Reichardt on Unsplash

Let’s talk about work/life balance (again), shall we?

Something I’ve noticed over the past few weeks, as more people are eligible to get a COVID vaccine and appointments have become more available, is that people are prioritizing getting vaccinated. (Granted: I have mostly people who are enthusiastic—desperate, even—about getting vaccinated in both my personal and professional orbits.)

I have been in so many meetings where participants arrive late, leave early, or don’t show at all because of their appointment. Or meetings get rescheduled to accommodate a quick trip to get stuck. Or people plan to take the day after their second shot off out of fear of side effects.

This is not a complaint by any means.

This is merely an observation. I’m observing people prioritizing their health and safety—and the health and safety of those around them—above work.

And I’m wondering: why don’t we do that all the time?

Last week, I read that 1 in 5 working women haven’t taken a day to themselves in the past year. That is bad. It’s bad for health, stress levels, their relationships, and probably a lot more on the personal side of things. It’s also bad on the professional side: productivity decreases, resentment increases, burn-out becomes more likely.

So why are people willing to drop everything to get a vaccine, but they’re unwilling to decline meetings, not check their email for a little while, or take a day (or more) to themselves in the name of physical and mental health, sanity—overall wellness?

Some guesses:

  • COVID’s threat is immediate, while the threats of chronic stress and overwork are gradual and compounded over time.
  • The COVID “fix” (the vaccine) is quick and relatively easy, while self-care requires consistency and maintenance.
  • Related to the first point, COVID could literally kill you. So could stress, but causation isn’t as clear-cut.
  • Getting a vaccine is just as much about protecting your community as it is about protecting yourself. Is that is? People are willing to to put forth the effort to protect others, but neglect their own health and well-being (although, given many people’s behaviors over the past year+, that one seems unlikely to me…)

I’m sure there these things are explainable by heuristics—that might be something to dive into in a later post.

Anyway, there are two lessons here:

  1. For all of us to take charge of our own wellness by prioritizing it the way we’re prioritizing it in order to get vaccinated now.
  2. For all of us to be empathetic, supportive, and flexible of our employees/coworkers/friends/family when they choose to prioritize their health and well-being later.

Are you with me?

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