My phone screen lights up with a message from my mother on a Sunday afternoon. “Once you’re done working, call achamma (paternal grandmother), she’s been trying to reach you for a while,” she reminds me.
It’s been months since I spoke with my grandmother. I’ve been planning on surprising her with a home visit when I get a ‘day off’ but every month, work and deadlines keep piling up and days off are spent catching up on sleep and household chores. I thought I was an anomaly but stories from friends and acquaintances of not meeting their families for prolonged periods — even before the pandemic — proved me wrong and being a freelancer doesn’t make it any easier.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought the world crashing down, showing us just how much we had normalized and glorified the grind and hustle culture, to a point where even rest is looked at through the lens of recharging only to do more work. It showed us how even in 2021, some countries — including the United States — deny paid leave to a majority of its workforce, including maternity leave.
At the onset, the death, destruction and loneliness brought on by the pandemic made many of us realize that we spend too much time caught up in work and miss out on things like quality time with family and friends, and self-care.
Despite this realization, we quickly began competing to learn new skills, follow social media ‘lockdown trends’ and start new ventures apart from doing our day jobs remotely. All this without realizing how ridiculous it is to even work in the thick of a pandemic that is killing thousands on a daily basis.
“Rest is an inseparable part of human life.”
This age of constant gratification, the forever need to be doing something and ‘hustling’ and weighing the quality of our lives as per arbitrary standards set by social media has ingrained in us that rest is optional. Today, slowing down is regarded as ‘lazy’ in a world rigged to make machines out of human beings.
But rest is an inseparable part of human life, a necessity for us to function healthily in our day-to-day lives but we have limited rest to weekends, despite spending most of it catching up on chores. Adequate rest — actual time off to do nothing — improves metabolism, reduces stress and chronic pain, and significantly uplifts mental health. In a time when a mental health crisis is constantly looming above our heads, resting is revolutionary.
At the peak of the pandemic, social media was overflowing with fundraising requests for medical bills and other necessities. In the same period, the wealth of American billionaires grew by a whopping $1.2 trillion. Less than a month ago, two workers died in a span of a few hours at a workshop of one of the world’s biggest multinational corporations in Alabama after being denied sick leave. This is only one among countless incidents that show the inhumane workplace practices of corporations and big businesses across the globe, especially with regard to blue collar workers and minorities.
Which is why 2022 should be the year we take a long, hard look at how we are living our lives. We put in ungodly hours into work, often ignoring our well-being only for billionaires to get obscenely richer off our labour while simultaneously profiting off our misery. This year, let us sit down and reprioritize what we spend our time and energy on and if it is worth it anymore. It’s about time we stopped taking pride in being ‘workaholics’ and learned to listen to our bodies and give it the rest it truly needs. It’s 2022, it’s about time we put our happiness and well-being above all.