How To 'Not' Feel Guilty About Going On Weekend Adventures
I have a stack of dirty dishes in my sink. Clothes are piled high in my laundry basket. There’s a sea of bills to pay. I really need to sort all of that out this weekend…
Oh, wait. I’m going camping.
The weekend before, it was paddle-boarding and climbing.
Before that, bouldering and slack-lining at the beach.
I have a Monday to Friday job, a long commute, and I have to go to the gym. There’s no time on weekdays to take care of all that extra life admin.
Is it going to go away? Of course not.
Am I going to stop having fun on my weekends? …Hmm, let me think about that…NOPE!
Still, I feel inundated. I feel like a bad adult.
I feel guilty!
Why is it that so often, work-life balance is framed as a women’s issue? It’s problematic. It heaps upon us feelings of inadequacy. Makes us feel as if we just can’t win. If we spend too much time out having fun, we’re irresponsible. If we’re all about work, then we’re failing at self-care, liable to become unhealthy and bitter and miserable, and who wants to spend time with a woman like that?
Studies show that both men and women, in almost equal measure, struggle to find balance, but there always seems to be inordinate focus placed upon the female plight.
And perhaps as a result, research has found that women feel more guilt about work-life conflicts than men do. Extra guilt, which has very real side effects. Guilt leads to stress. Stress makes us tired, increases our blood pressure, makes us sick.
But do you know what makes us healthy? Getting outside. Laughing and connecting with friends. Being surrounded by positivity. Breathing in fresh air. Being immersed in nature. Stepping away from the ordinary, the hum-drum, even for a short time, is good for us, so we need to stop apologising for it.
Research shows that spending time outdoors improves concentration, memory, immunity; it’s believed to prolong the human life! These are facts. They’re just some of the very real benefits of doing something we often dismiss as frivolity. We pass up time spent adventuring in the outdoors for chores and work and other responsibilities, and sometimes we have to. But isn’t it funny that we’ll scrupulously watch what we eat, take vitamins and supplements to improve our health…but when it comes to being outside, we generally won’t factor that in as a legitimate means to the same end?
Maybe it’s because we can’t come to terms with the fact that something that feels so good could, in fact, be good for us.
Of course, it’s up to each and every one of us individually to discover our own balance, to determine which aspects of our life need to be prioritised, and when. But in doing so, we must remember to give as much weight to fun, to adventure, as we do to everything else. And we must divest ourselves of the standard self-flagellation that comes with the choice to do it.
Adventuring is so much more than a good time. It’s an investment in our lives, and in our health at-large. Most of us know ourselves well enough to know when we need that. And sometimes, when we feel that we do, we just need to take a leaf out of the book of indomitable French actress Jeanne Moreau, who said, “I don’t feel guilt. Whatever I wish to do, I do.”
It’s impossible to have it all. That’s not what this is about. It’s about embracing simple pleasures. And it’s about letting go, discovering that we alone hold the power to define ourselves as more than just our societal demands. And realising that we can free ourselves of the guilt that’s programmed into us…just by prioritising our own joy.
And when guilt ends, just think how many more adventures we’re inviting in!