How to Realize Your Work/Life Balance is Crap

So it’s been what, six months?

Sorry about that I guess.

I don’t know what to write about but I want to write something. I called out of work sick today and spent the day on the couch alternately sleeping and watching the British show “Supersized vs. Superskinny” on YouTube. Then I got bored, whitened my teeth, did a bit of meal prep, decided to continue my registration for community college and remembered this blog. Since I had called out of work sick I didn’t feel that it would be right to go for a run or workout at the gym or anything even though physically I feel fine. Today was a mental health day.

I’ve been working far too much. My therapist, my personal trainer and one of my coworkers have all pointed that out to me. According to the staffing program we use at work I have worked the most overtime out of all the other dispatchers. Only one calltaker has worked more overtime hours than me. As of Wednesday, I have worked over 500 overtime hours this year alone. On top of my regular work hours.

I’m morbidly proud of that statistic. I feel as if I’m killing myself for my job and I’m ok with it. That’s disgusting. It’s terrible. To make it worse if I were to die tomorrow my spot at work would be swallowed up and they’d move on without me in about a week. I can’t continue this way.

But I’m addicted to the paychecks. I’m addicted to saving my money and buying nice things with it. I’m addicted to taking trips and I rationalize this work addict behavior by saying I wouldn’t do anything if I were just staying at home.

I need to figure out a few things:

  1. How to deal with smaller paychecks and still save money. My monthly expenditures are ~$2,800 a month. This includes everything – food, gas, bills, insurance, car payment, etc, etc. There wouldn’t be any savings (or at least very, very little) but I could survive on $3,000 a month. Which means my bi-weekly paychecks need to be at least $1500. But then I couldn’t travel or at least it would take a lot longer to pay off the credit card. For context, with all this overtime, my paychecks are usually ~$2,500+.
  2. Learn how to relax. I need to develop better strategies for relaxing and winding down after work that don’t involve alcohol, spending money or eating food. Exercise is at the top of this list. I need to learn which activities work best for me. I am interested in learning more about meditation for this.
  3. Make time for personal care and wellbeing. This is sort of like number two but with a twist (I hope my brother isn’t reading this. Tim, if you are reading this, stop now!!). On February 14, I was diagnosed with Vaginismus. Vaginismus is essentially…..tight vagina syndrome. (You can laugh, I laughed.) Apparently I hold all of my stress in my vagina and pelvic area. I’m seeing a physical therapist AND a psychotherapist for this and the prognosis is great however it still takes time and the healing process can be frustrating and slow. Fortunately I have a super patient husband who hasn’t made a big deal about it at all.
  4. Focus on exercise and nutrition. My job is a personal health killer. You’d think working in such close contact with law enforcement would motivate us but the surprising truth is that a large number of 911 dispatchers are alarmingly….large. Think about it – we sit all day, we work insanely stressful jobs and our circadian rhythms are all thrown off due to our work schedules. One of the most common things for us to do is eat out of boredom or stress (I’d say it is safe to say we are all emotional eaters) and I’m not talking about carrot sticks. Chips, donuts, chocolate, fried chicken and pizza are our favorites and there is no shortage of them in the radio room. Then, once we’re done working our 12 hour shift we’re too exhausted to do any sort of workout or we have families that we also have to take care of and physical health is just thrown out the window. I don’t want to be that way.

So for the foreseeable future my blog will focus on these things so that I can write about what’s going on in my head, track my progress and experiment with things so I can figure out what does and does not work.

For now I’ll say….one post a week. I’ll talk about how my overtime has been (hopefully less), how my exercise has been, my nutrition and my relaxation techniques. I’ll also talk a little bit about Vaginismus when something interesting comes up because I feel that this is a condition that a surprising number of women have but it is still not very well known. Hopefully you can relate to at least something here!

For now I need to go to bed. Three days until I’m on vacation – 32 hours of work!

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