I watched the pilot of Happy Endings — a surprisingly good new sitcom — last night. In the show, one of the characters is dumped at the altar and spends a few days at home, on a couch, depressed, and wrapped up in a robe.
I know I was supposed to feel sorry for the character.
But honestly? I kind of felt jealous.
Balance has always been an issue for me.
Until the last couple of years, I’d always prided myself on being a work-hard-play-hard kind of individual. But at some point, that strategy stopped working for me. I got sick as a result, and it nearly killed me.
But over the last few months, I’ve stumbled onto a new routine that has really helped my overall happiness and sanity. And from outward appearances, it looks remarkably like that sitcom scene.
Here is my new sanity-restoring system:
I have a commitment Saturday mornings, so I get up and go do that. Then, on my way back from that, I pick up a frozen pizza or some other kind of easy-to-make dinner.
Then, starting around noon, I do nothing productive. Nothing. All day.
I change into the comfiest set of pajamas I own, take my duvet and move it to the living room couch, gather my cats and some ice cream, and watch bad reality TV shows all day long. And since Sundays are the only day in the week I can sleep in, I stay up as late as I like — sometimes to 4:00 a.m.
I don’t answer the phone. I don’t send or check emails. And I rarely use the computer.
If you were to see me on Saturday afternoons, you’d swear I was seriously depressed.
I have, in fact, experienced real deep, dark depression more than once, and it’s miserable. In those true depressions, I don’t feel sad or down — I just don’t feel anything.
But my Sedentary Saturdays are something entirely different.
I’m not depressed — in fact, during these days, I feel ridiculously content, relaxed, and spoiled. I swear I can feel disconnected neurons re-attaching and my beaten-down nervous system healing.
The secret is learning how to accept love from yourself.
When you think about it, the only time we every truly treat ourselves well is when we’re sick. We eat ice cream, stay on the couch, and watch bad TV.
And admit it — it kind of feels good.
So now, once a week, I “play sick.” I going to eat what I want, nap at 2:30 in the afternoon if I feel like it, give myself permission to watch all the bad reality TV I want, surf gossip web sites, and not once check my work email or think about what I should be doing.
Amazingly, I get tired of it and come most Sundays, I’m back up to full levels of productivity and energy. And on those rare Sundays where I still need TLC, I simply extend Sedentary Saturdays to Sundays as well.
And life, not only on those lazy weekends, really is better as a result.