How Yoga Helped Me Stop Over-Working

This article was first published in Computer Arts Magazine’s July 2014 issue.

“Hi, My name is Sabrina and I’m a freelance workaholic.”

You’re a freelancer. You’re constantly working — whether it’s on an actual task or on finding the next one. Even on your (forced) nights off, you find yourself checking your phone and hitting refresh on your inbox. You begin questioning if your email server is down; you begin questioning your sanity.

You find it hard to claw back time for even normal life things, and at the mention of taking time out for yourself, you can’t help but chuckle at the utter naivety and preposterousness. The struggle, as they say, is real.

If the above describes you, please continue. Admitting is the first step.

Let’s face it, freelancing doesn’t lend itself well to taking breaks and scheduling “you time”. As a freelancer myself, I have been guilty as charged. I spent my down-time in front of an illuminated screen hunting for emails and desperation-tweeting. I always said to myself, “just one more email,” or “Just another hour,” or “It’s fine, it just means I’ll work one hour less tomorrow… right?” But let’s face it, rationalizing something doesn’t conjure up a picture of health.

As a recovered workaholic, I’ve come to realize something very important: That it’s worth the investment to take time for yourself and that surrendering is freeing. Any my sponsor at each step along the way goes by the name yoga.

We tend to think of the next minute and the last minute over than this one. We’re so focused on what we do with our time and abilities that we forget to pay attention to the now and to today. We forget to breathe and pat ourselves on the back. We think it’s selfish to take time out for ourselves. But doesn’t knowing your self and controlling your present and how you react to your now seem like the greatest influencer of tomorrow, next week, next year?

Yoga is a constant progression with no real end. It doesn’t care to know your history or your past; your practice is confidential. Unlike freelance work, yoga has no deadlines, no contests, no questions. Yoga asks nothing of you and only expects that you explore what you’re ready for in that moment; it teaches you to be grateful for whatever you can do today and to forget about what you cannot. While that mind-set seems obvious to many, to us silly over-workers, it’s easy to forget.

I’ll admit it, I still tend to dive head first into things and walk before I run, but when I do succumb to the temptation of over-working, my practice has helped me to surrender and enjoy the time between projects, to be more present for prospective jobs and to focus my attention so I’m better equipped when they do come. While yoga isn’t the only answer to avoiding a work-binge and while yoga can’t stop you from barking up the wrong tree, every down-dog is a step in the right direction.