One upon a time, most of the work to be done consisted of hard, physical work, in the factories, on the farms, and in transporting those goods from there to your home. Much of this work was physically exhausting and some of it was dangerous, but on the bright side, at least people got plenty of exercise and physical activity.
Today, many of us are “lucky” enough to spend our hours indoors on a comfortable office chair and we live lives of comparative luxury! We spend many hours of our day inside a small area enclosed by short walls, affectionately known as “The Cubicle”.
Is it really all it’s cracked up to be? In other lines of work, the danger is obvious: place your hand in the wrong place and you might get your fingers crushed or worse. Yet, there are actually dangers to cubicle life as well, and they can sneak up on you when you least expect it.
Building up stress until we explode.
White-collar work is less physically strenuous than other lines of work for sure, but that doesn’t make it any less exhausting or stressful. First you have to sit in traffic, then you spend a full day of mental activity, dealing with bosses, clients, and less-than-idea coworkers who get paid more than you for inferior work just because they have seniority, and at the end of it all, you slump back into your car, battle the traffic back home and daze away the rest of your night in your large home with granite countertops, living paycheck to paycheck. Then you wake up the next morning to do it all over again.
Ok, so I might be exaggerating just a little bit. However, it’s true that a white-collar lifestyle is not the healthiest. Our bodies need a physical outlet for stress, and when we sit on our asses in a chair all day we’re just not getting that. We also require healthy exposure to the sun, and in northern climes it happens that for half of the year, it’s dark when you get to work, and it’s dark when you leave! My uncle is a blue-collar foreman, and is strong as heck and fit as a fiddle, even if he does look like a roasted chicken. His work is a natural outlet for stress that comes up during the day.
For those of us in the cubicle, the stress might just build up one day until we snap, and that’s not healthy for anyone. People who have seen Office Space and who have actually worked in a cubicle will know what I’m talking about.
Forgetting about our dreams
Perhaps an even bigger danger of cubicle life is that we get so wrapped in our work and our lives at work that we don’t have much time to think about our dreams or much energy to pursue them. I can see this happening to myself, sometimes, where I take the comfort of routine and security and lose sight of where I ultimately want to be. I can also see it happening to others: friends that want to pursue master’s degrees, change their line of work, and pursue their passions and dreams.
Not everyone is as self-driven as the heroes that we often look up to, and sometimes we need a bit of a kick in the ass to get there. That can be hard when we’re caught up in the security of a comfortable job. We put up with the crap because we know, at the end of the day, we have a job, insurance, and a roof over our heads. Yet, we lose a little something of ourselves when we neglect our dreams because we’re afraid of losing this security.
How to deal with it
Don’t get enough exercise during the day? Well, Mashable has an article up on the growing popularity of stand-up desks — desks that force you to stand instead of sitting around all day. This might be unrealistic for you, so the alternative is to make sure you take breaks during the day, and often.
Diet and health
If you’re not running in marathons or engaging in back-breaking work all day, your body will have no choice but to turn all of those carbohydrates that you’re probably eating into fat. This path can eventually lead to diabetes as well as other health problems. I’m not a health “expert”, but there seems to be a lot of merit in the idea that switching to wholesome foods — meaning, the stuff you buy around the edges of the grocery store and not in the middle, and cutting down on the processed food and stuff with refined sugar, flour, and corn syrup will have a great positive impact on your health. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a cup of coffee in the morning, either, but 4 or 5 to get you through the day might mean it’s time to cut back and get some more sleep.
Get out of the rat race
Maybe the best way is to get out of the cubicle! Of course, if you end up doing the same thing at home it could be worse, since you will then also face social isolation and lack of routine. However, if you are self-driven enough or can find another way of kicking yourself in the ass, then this can be the dream. I find Crystal’s journey to be so inspiring, because she was once stuck in the cubicle, herself, and then she actually got herself out of the rat race and is now following her passions and dreams. I’m not there yet, myself, but I am inspired by her success.
Crystal’s Comments: Thank you so much for the kind words and excellent guest post!!!