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The Girlfriend's Guide to Health will be updated every Tuesday.... Stay tuned dear readers and let me rock your world.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Run Lola Run

Oh my girlfriends…. May I say that as I write this it is in fact Sunday and I find myself in bed. No, I am not unwell. No, there was no sale on 8000 thread count sheets and no, I am not suffering the ill effects of one too many cocktails. Truth be told- I had one Chinese margarita on Saturday at my favourite fusion bistro but ONE was my limit.

Please my sisters- don’t judge although I am in training for my glory day in Honolulu,  every girl needs a cocktail once in a while.

But something in this get up and go girl, just got up and went. Here I am laying like broccoli in my 600 thread counts on a perfect Sunday morning. My schedule demands I recover from the 32km pain fest of running/insanity that took place the day before. While my head says get out of bed, my body suggests I should lay here for another 6-8 hours and watch every episode of the Real Housewives of New York City. This of course is not appropriate marathon training behaviour but somehow my heart just won’t budge.

Well, my sisters… the heart wants what the heart wants.

This brings me to a rather new concept for me… THE REST DAY.

I am rather unfamiliar with the concept of rest day. And yes, like every misstep of my personality…. I blame my mother.

Mama is a woman who can’t sit still. God love the little energetic woman who gave me life but truly- I blame her for not being able to rest for a given period of time.

Let’s be clear- my mama is a pretty amazing lady. She raised two kids while working full time and she has a “no-nonsense” way of going about things. To this day she is 72 years old and still walks on a  treadmill every morning for an hour…. With a knee brace. The broad (and I say broad with the highest of honours) is unstoppable.

Some of my best conversations with my mother were held with her back to me. Yes, my sisters- she was doing the dishes and I was sitting at the kitchen table doing my homework. Now as an adult- our best conversations are held by telephone. She is on the other end of the line walking on a treadmill and I am on my Bluetooth biking over the Lion’s Gate Bridge.

Yes, Mama taught me many a great things- chief among them was that an object in motion stays in motion.

I’ve been thinking a lot these days about my relative inability to sit still. Sure there are the odd days where I do indeed lay like broccoli but for the most part, I am a woman who does not like to take a load off on a regular basis. Perhaps I’m afraid that once I sit down, I may never get back up again, or perhaps it’s a clinical thing that I chose to ignore in order to get things done.

But every once in a while I take what I call a “pajama day”. This si a day where I schedule to stay in my pajamas and not move an inch. Make no mistake- Pajama days occur maybe once every 6-9 months but they do act to restore my sense of self.

On these the holiest of holies, I lie in bed with two fuzzy monsters, a laptop and a PVR stocked full of reality television and HBO dramas. I watch TV, surf the net and wait for my bed sores to develop.

On once such pajama day I could not help but lay there and wonder about the effect of my lazy day on my overall well being.

According to a WHO Health and Work Performance Questionnaire that assesses sick days, depression was cited as the number one reason for absenteeism on the job. And a February 2010 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter found that depression and anxiety were among the top five reasons for absenteeism.

Americans are clearly suffering. According to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, about 26% of American adults aged 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year.

Eighty-two percent of employees admit to taking "mental health days" to recover or recharge, according to a 2008 poll by ComPsych, a provider of employee assistance programs.

The poll asked employees: "What would most likely cause you to take a 'mental health day' (unplanned day off to recover or recharge)?"

30 percent said family/relationship issues
20 percent said work stress/workload
15 percent said personal issues (financial, legal, other)
12 percent said lack of physical energy/well being
5 percent said boredom/lack of motivation

The survey included responses from 1,036 employees of ComPsych client companies nationwide.

According to a study published in the July 2010 issue of the Journal of Organizational Behavior, taking advantage of mental health days can help reduce job demands and extend the positive effects of vacation. In the study, individuals who took a full summer off from work returned with increased productivity and less burn-out. However, within a month of working a full-time schedule they reported feeling as though they had not even had a break.

Those workers who planned for and took advantage of regular mental health days to focus on leisure time, relaxing activities reported significantly less stress and burnout than co-workers who envisioned another year before vacation rolled around again.

And so my Sundays in the bed indeed do fuel my Attention Deficit Soul. Unfortunately due to my relative inability to be still, I am unable to indulge more than once in a half dozen moons.

Although infrequent, they are evidence based. Now if you will excuse me my sisters, I must roll over, take a Robaxacet and catch up on season 3 of Boardwalk Empire. It’s tough work girlfriends…. But someone must take one for the team.

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