A balancing act

When was the last time you made an effort to get home in time for the kids’ bed time? Or had a digital detox for at least half the day away from the beep and ping of all your gadgets? When was the last time you took yourself for a swim in the pool or a morning jog? In our mad rush through life at breakneck speed, the simple bare necessities of life become optional extras.

According to a recent study in the UK, the average Brit gets just five hours solid sleep a night, starts dealing with work emails at 7.50am – and takes SIX out-of-hours calls after leaving the office each week. Seeing the results, I couldn’t help but think just how many hours the average Nigerian spends in traffic, waiting for a meeting at a random Oga’s office or doing business – the Nigerian way – out of office hours.

While Nigerian hustle and entrepreneurial spirit fascinates me (Where else in the world would you see someone jumping in their car at 1am to head over to a meeting by the poolside at Eko Hotel?), I can’t help but wonder how much this constant mad dash takes its toll on the average Nigerian.

Is it any wonder that you see those fortunate enough to travel a few months swearing to God and all his angels how Nigeria is the best place on earth to live followed by an appendage on how it is crucial for them to leave the country every couple of months to keep sane? Is it any wonder that the average Nigerian professional spends the first 24-48 hours on holiday cooped up in a hotel room catching up on much needed sleep or your auntie shacking up at Champneys spa, her phones out of range for the whole weekend as she is preened, polished and primed before she needs to head back into the hamster wheel that is Lagos?

Life may be more fun lived to the fullest, or lived in true Naija style, working, playing and on Sundays praying hard, but it is also worth switching off occasionally giving yourself some room to breathe and just be. While I appreciate in the constantly connected commercial capital of the country a missed phone call may just cost you a 5million Naira business, there are a few quick tips and tricks to use for those of us who could do with a bit of a breather.

Don’t wait till you crash and burn – Don’t put off the much-needed rest until the next holiday vacation when you are most likely to let the whole family down by spending your whole break sleeping trying to shake off months’ worth of weariness. A Sunday spent in solitude is sometimes enough to charge your batteries.

Treat your bedroom as a sacred temple – The average Brit gets about five hours sleep a day, potentially, the average Nigerian – between home and the office and the night vigil at church – gets less than that. Whether you’re getting the recommended seven hours sleep or just half of that, make sure if it quality sleep – away from the blue glare of the TV, laptop and any other digital screen.

Get physical – In the rush from home to work and in between social engagements, the first thing that gets dropped is often exercise. At least three times a week set aside – pencil in your calendar or to do list, if you like – an hour to exercise. Even if it is a spell of stretching on your living room floor, you will feel the endorphins surge lifting up your mood and your energy.

Have a break – Living and working in Lagos, I recall skipping lunch countless times, opting for work on the laptop and a packet of plantain crisps in the back of a car, or lunch al desko with a take away tub of jollof rice and chicken from Mr Big’s. Don’t. Bring your homemade food and step away from the desk. Even if you set aside half an hour for a lunch break away from anything work related and as far away as humanly possible from your work environment, you will feel the benefit of giving your mind and your body a break so you can take on the rest of the day and the rush hour traffic home.

Remember to prioritise – Lagos is not for those who experience the fear of missing out. As invites pile up on your desk for events running from Wednesday to Saturday, use discretion to prioritise and fight the fear of missing out.

I guarantee you a far more balanced day and more energy to get you through your working week if you heed all five tips. Even if you can only manage the one, why not start this weekend?

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