Thursday, April 10, 2008

The occupational hazard of blogging and other creative outlets

This week, the New York Times ran a story on three prolific bloggers who, it is believed, blogged themselves to death. ( The stress of the constant need to publish as quickly and as often as humanly possible caused them to fall into poor health. Several friends immediately sent me the article, knowing that I try as best as I can to publish daily on my own blog. I don't always make it, though I am always on the look out for new content and new ideas.

I feel terrible for the families and friends of these writers, the oldest of which was only 60. It is always tragic to see anyone consumed by what they love. I read the article closely, several times, and there are a few things that on the surface I feel may have saved these people. I hope by sharing them with you that they may help other people who feel obsessed with their jobs for whatever reason.

I completely understand insomnia - I've suffered with it for most of my life. I understand anxiety about money - I grew up in a family with very little, and only recently have been able to breath a bit easier about my finances. There were a few huge things in my life that have made a difference in my level of anxiety - I consciously decide to not be a workaholic, and I practice yoga every day, no matter how short an amount of time.

When I worked in DC, some of my office mates would make fun of me because at 5:30, nearly every day, I was out the door. I would feel angry about their teasing sometime, though most of the time I let it go. My mom works herself to the bone. I mean to the absolute brink. It was painful for me, as a kid, to watch her. A year and a half ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and from her recovery bed, she was on her computer. Some call this dedication. There's no denying my mom is a dedicated woman; unfortunately, she is dedicated to a fault. A very large fault, that very easily could cost her, and her children, her life.

Even today, I will come in early, I will work on things at home at night, but I never, and I mean never, allow myself to fall into the habit of staying in the office past 5:30. On occasion, I get it - deadlines pop up, and an occasional late night is necessary. When I went looking for a job after business school, I was adamant about finding one that afforded me a life and time to live it. This is a conscious choice - I ALWAYS have more work, I could always be doing more. I choose to let it lie for the next day. I could very easily become a workaholic; it's in my blood. I fight that temptation every step of the way, and I refuse to back down in the face of my impulse to work "just a little bit more".

Yoga, quite honestly, saved my life. It helped me forgive a lot of sadness and disappointment. It helped me cope during times of extreme stress. It gave me the strength to get up, again and again, with an open heart. It is a discipline. After years of practice, I can sleep, in relative peace. And when I can, where I can, I am out in the world singing yoga's praises, sharing my knowledge about it. Everyone needs a healthy release - yoga is mine.

Anything in the world can get the best of you - food, drugs, gambling, smoking, love, an obsessive hobby, and yes, work, no matter what field you're in. You have more control over you than anyone in the word, whether you realize it or not. At every moment we have a choice. If we are doing something, anything, that harms us, it's easier to blame someone else. Our boss, our romantic partner, our friends. The truth is others control us when we allow them to. Ultimately, our happiness, the very activities that compose our lives, are all choices. And choosing what to do among many options is the hardest, and most important, task we have. I consciously remind myself every morning that my time is the most valuable resource in the world, and I treat it accordingly.


Bevson said...

My friends also sent me this article--sorta scary.

I don't do yoga, but I love Tai Chi. You have inspired me. Maybe I'll take it up again.


Christa said...

Hi Bev! thanks so much for your comment on my blog. I love tai chi as well - I've always wanted to get more into it. Do you practice at a studio?