It comes every year as summer gently begins to fade into autumn, a long weekend early in September we all look forward to – Labor Day! The words conjure visions of firing up the barbecue for a meal with friends, softball games, parades, maybe even a little extra sleep.
Some people have no choice in the matter, however – they have to work. Whether it’s the police officer, paramedic, or the Associates you see at your local Harris Teeter, many people work over the Labor Day weekend because they’re doing what comes naturally to them – they’re serving all of us.
And in essence, that’s really what Labor Day is all about – remembering the sacrifice and efforts of workers all across the land that support us and our country every single day. In fact, The U.S. Department of Labor web site
(http://www.dol.gov/opa/aboutdol/laborday.htm) states that Labor Day is “dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.” This country’s greatness was borne, in large part, on the shoulders of its workers, so we formally recognize them (including you!) once a year.
On the other hand, however, many of us use the Labor Day weekend to catch up on work that’s been piling up on our desks, or attending to chores long neglected. Since free time is in such short supply, it’s somewhat understandable why we might consider using the holiday weekend to get some things off our “to do” lists.
That said, I recommend against using the Labor Day holiday to labor.
Truth be told, your “to do” list is going nowhere. If you work 24-7, 365 days a year, you’ll likely still have stuff to do! In traditional Chinese medicine there is the belief that those who put forth effort consistently without taking time to renew and rejuvenate run the risk of depleting their energies. A state of depletion doesn’t cause illness by itself, but it could open the doorway to illness.
Provided your job doesn’t require you to work, the Labor Day weekend is a great time to take time for your self, to remember why it is that you work so hard, to look up from your labors to see the sky in all its glory, to pull back your shoulders and take in a deep breath of fresh air. In a word, to relax.
Why relax? Because health has been defined as balance, and if you continuously work without taking a break that state of depletion could be around the next corner. On the other hand, taking a well-deserved break can help you better approach a state of balance, and can actually make you more efficient at your labors, not to mention give you added reason to smile.
How to define rest? Well, it’s not sleep (though a mid-day nap is good for you!), because rest happens while you’re awake. To me rest is a period of time when nothing is scheduled and where I have no responsibilities outside those happily tied to my loved ones. I might take a walk with my family, read a book, meditate, or call a friend I haven’t spoken with in a while. Any activity is okay provided it’s not “work” (which includes house work); thus, if you enjoy gardening that’s permissible because it doesn’t feel like work.
There will be plenty of time for work, but Labor Day, the day we honor you and all workers across this wondrous country, comes but once a year. Take a few days off, if possible, to enjoy the fruits of your labors and the appreciation of your country.
You’re worth it.
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