Monday, December 17, 2007

What The Hell Is A Personal Maintenance Day?

Personal Maintenance Day
I try to take two days a week off for personal maintenance: Sundays and Thursdays. Life is one of those positions where flexible scheduling is mandatory, so this doesn't always work out. Even if you don't get paid sick days, everybody's entitled to some personal maintenance days.

We all have stress. From the acute stresses of traffic or a tight deadline to the longer lasting types of stress like a failing relationship or a crappy job, it is literally impossible to have zero stress. Consider also the technological times in which we live. We are now able, as a society, to be exposed to more potentially stressful information than ever before. Political scandal, economic troubles, environmental issues, and an almost disturbing variety in the amount of cell phone plans that are available are just a few of the things that were mostly only important to our grandparents on a local level. Now we can find out the gas prices on the other side of the world at the click of a button.

It's easy to get stressed out. I always hear people saying that they "need a vacation." Vacations are nice once in awhile, but it's not real practical to plan one every time you forget to charge your phone or some jackoff decides to cut in front of you on the freeway. Besides, almost every time somebody I know goes on vacation, I end up learning aound a week and a half later that they now need a "vacation from their vacation." Even getting away for a break from your stressors is stressful. How much luggage to carry, travel and lodging arrangements, cash or credit? Ungh.

What's a stressed out person to do? Take a personal maintenance day! Yeah, that was an exclamation point. It's something to get excited about. Every vehicle needs maintenance, whether it's a skateboard or space shuttle. The same principle applies to you, if for very different reasons.

So what the hell is a personal maintenance day? At first glance, you're likely thinking about grooming. The words personal and maintenance, when butted up against one another just so, frequently inspire ideas of neatly trimmed moustaches, scrubbed teeth, polished nails or shaven legs. That's not the kind of maintenance I'm talking about. Think about that vehicle I mentioned earlier. When you bring your car in to the mechanic for scheduled maintenance for example, does it get a paint job? Not at all. Oftentimes it doesn't even get so much as a soapy sponge dragged across its exterior. The maintenance is done deep down in the guts, within the engine or transmission.

I think of a personal maintenance day as a day off from whatever it is I am doing every other day. An internal changing of gears. So yes, your personal maintenance day might include a spa treatment but again, this only counts because of the de-stressing it brings to you psychologically, on the inside. A haircut because your sister made a comment about your split ends doesn't count, the same haircut because you want to catch up with the latest gossip from your stylist is more like it.

This is where the personal part becomes important. Changing your activities and their pace for the day to those that are less stressful for you is the key.

Sometimes a day to just focus on things that you can't (or just don't) normally get to is just what the doctor ordered. I try to keep Thursday available as a personal maintenance day, and you'll never guess how I spend most of it: cleaning the house. Sounds stressful, right? Not so much for me on Thursday. I abhor cleaning the house most of the time, so I have a tendency toward avoiding it like the plague. But for some reason, if I step away from the computer and turn the music up loud enough, I really get into it. At the end of the day, I can step back and be happy with how nice everything looks, the kids run around twice as hard, and the wife comes home in a much better mood.

Think about your situation. Do you spend too much time on the couch? Maybe a long bicycle ride, a sports league, yoga or kickboxing classes could be part of your personal maintenance. Work outside all the time? Maybe you want to tape Oprah all week and spend five hours on Sunday watching them all.

You could even dedicate a portion of your personal maintenance day toward listing things to do on future maintenance days. This way you'll be getting interst on your maintenance investment. Whatever it is, just make sure to allow yourself some scheduled time toward something completely different than the usual stressful humdrum so you don't breakdown from lack of maintenance.



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