Forget the detox, emails and exercise – you really do deserve a break

04_Forget the detox_ emails and exercise - you really do deserve a break

It’s the lull between the festivities of Christmas and New Year.

I once thought of this time in the otherwise turbulent yearly calendar as a sort of Sargasso Sea – the legendary patch of Atlantic Ocean first named by the Portuguese in the 15th century as the “volta do mar” where sargassum seaweed swirled endlessly in the lazy, quieted winds of the gyre.

A time when we were becalmed in the Bermuda Triangle between candlelit carols and fireworks, bobbing in the water on blown-up things, lazing in deck chairs with belts let out a notch and pushing the button marked “snooze”.

Sadly, we now know the Sargasso Sea as one of the great floating garbage patches of the ocean choked with plastic refuse, so there goes that fanciful notion.

Likewise this time of year isn’t what it used to be. It’s become a whirlpool of guilt and anxiety.

We’ve overeaten, stacked on the kilos. Our wristband exercise devices urge us to get moving and walk those 10,000 steps. We’ve drunk too much. Time to start a lemon and cayenne pepper detox?

Open the fridge and there’s that accusing carcass of a half-eaten turkey urging us to “Do Something!” about food waste. We just spent $10 billion on yummy Christmas treats we’re told and 35 per cent of them will be chucked away. Time to find a new recipe for the leftovers?

Surveying the bins stuffed to the gunnels with plastic packaging, the joy of Christmas morning presents evaporates with the evidence of our rampant over-consumption, and yet the shops and online sites shout 80 per cent off and that if we hesitate, we’ll miss out.

On Facebook we’re watching how other people are spending their time and worrying whether we really should make plans to catch up with people we’ve barely seen all year.

Twitter’s still busily giving us the news, MUST SEE articles and books to read, videos we really should watch to stay informed and outraged.

The kids are on the computer in their bedrooms turning into addicted zombies with damaged prefrontal cortexes and dangerous Vitamin D deficiencies. Time to drag them to the park?

Those work emails have piled up. Should we put in a few hours to get a head start on next year? Maybe do a bit of online banking, pay a few bills and??? “ouch”, there’s the overdrawn credit card.

It’s all enough to make you want to go back to work and the daily routine that had you just putting one foot in front of the other without too much time to think.

Enough! For pity’s sake, give yourself a break.

You’ve earned these few days at least to be an overweight, indolent, ignorant, wasteful, selfish human.

C’mon how hard did we work this year?

A report from the University of NSW released last month, which analysed data from thousands of parents across various developed countries, found that Australians were the most time-poor. Some 90 per cent of mothers said they always or often felt rushed.

An OECD reports consistently rank us up there with the world’s hardest workers and Australian women are among the least likely to take time out to play sport, watch TV or relax with friends. One in five men are putting in more than 50 hours a week at work.

The Australia Institute estimates that 3.8 million employees regularly skip a lunch break, preferring to eat at their desks. We spend longer doing unpaid overtime than we do on taking holidays.

Then there’s the ANU telling us that technological change has dissolved the old boundaries between work and leisure, making us more stressed.

Like we didn’t know.

So how much more evidence do you need that you’ve really earned this time to switch off and do SFA?

Yes we’ll over consume at this time of year, but what are we saving our money for if it’s not to splurge?

If we can’t reward ourselves with piles of presents and a ritual feasting until we vow to never eat again, what’s the point of the whole exercise?

As for flogging yourself around the block to lose the festive flab, nagged by nutritionists who offer advice like this: “Promise yourself that you will do your best to avoid the weight gain over Christmas and New Year, the guilt and the hard work in January.”

Get stuffed! What’s the New Year for if not a resolution that you’ll have regretfully broken by Australia Day?

I recall my father settling in for the duration on the couch on Boxing Day to watch the cricket, cracking a beer mid morning, eating leftover mince pies, gnawing at a turkey leg and patting his gut with satisfaction.

“All bought and paid for,” he’d say.

He cheerfully ignored we kids with a wave of his hand and gave us the direction that we could “go and entertain yourselves” ??? which, on reflection was a nice way of putting it. From recollection he took it easy until somewhere around Easter.

Have I convinced you yet to reclaim this precious week as one where time ebbs and flows – where a lazy morning turns into a lethargic afternoon, a languorous evening and absolutely nothing gets done? I hope so.

It’s your holiday, so go ahead and waste it.

PS: Don’t bother leaving a comment, I won’t be reading it. I have a wall or two to stare at.

Wendy Harmer is the editor in chief of The Hoopla.


This article was written by Wendy Harmer from Sydney Morning Herald and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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