With un and under employment knocking people out of the standard notion of productivity in droves, I can see where we all have the potential to feel a bit useless. However, as a fellow under-employed writer friend and I went for a walk this week, I couldn’t help but start to think about how perhaps a lack of gainful employment might be the start of a healthy lifestyle for our generation. Not being over-employed gives us time to exercise, to cook healthy food, and to have plenty of mental health days. Sure, the stress of wondering if we can pay our bills is freaky, but at least we have time to go for a bike ride to unwind. Is that so wrong?
A few cases in point come to mind…
1. Me, Myself, and I
I’m my own best advocate in this situation. When I have been gainfully employed (and when I was a nose-to-the-grindstone student), I was noticeably less healthy than I am now. Sitting at a desk makes weight-gain easy, as does the office environment of treats, boredom, and mundane tasks. Granted, I was also eating foods that stimulated rather than satiated, but even when I was satiating, I was still unable to really have time to be healthy. Once I was unemployed, I suddenly had too much free time, and started filling it with free-based activities. Running, walking, biking, the library. And I’m not alone.
E was inconveniently laid off just as she started a graduate program and as she dealt with several other life-changes. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, she started running. Back in January, she had not run a mile in over ten years. This past weekend, she ran her first 10K. While she’s still un-employed and maybe doesn’t have the lifestyle she imagined having, she is more healthy and more happy with herself than she has been in years.
I’ve mentioned R-dizzle before, and how in the years since college she has lost over 90 pounds. This seems remarkable to me; yes, it has been a commitment to calorie counting and water drinking, but she’s also been under-employed during much of this time.
My writer-buddy LVM with whom I was walking is another under-employed yet quite healthy success story. In the past four months, she has dropped 20 pounds due to having time to exercise and make concious choices about her diet.
Granted, this might just be the circles I run in (no pun intended); I tend to know a lot of artsy-educated people who are both struggling for jobs and quite luckily have friends and family who are helping them make rent. But what if the answer to happiness and health isn’t working ten hour days at a company that has on-site gyms, but rather it’s working less and getting out in the world more? More time for exercise, more time for relationships, more time for volunteering…why not?
Just an idea.