An Ode to Not Checking Work Emails on Weekends and Holidays

Photo by Ivan Samkov

We bring work to home and home to work.

We find it challenging to keep our professional and personal lives separate.

People say you should never talk about your personal problems at work; that your coworkers can use that info to bring you down. You never know who is plotting against you to climb that corporate ladder.

When it comes to bringing work home, though, things are a bit more relaxed. Many workers are guilty of committing this sin of not switching off post work-hours. We take it for granted that our loved ones would understand. No one is going to plot against you. There is no ladder to climb, except when the ceiling fan needs cleaning up, we need to fix a bulb or pull out something from a top storage unit.

The number one red flag that you are a workaholic is that you check your work emails during post-work hours and holidays. There is no urgency at work. There are no production issues. But there you are, checking your email like you are checking your fridge for something new.

I was guilty of this too.

I used to check my email after work hours. I wanted to know if my bosses replied. Sometimes the replies to my emails were neutral, sometimes positive, and sometimes negative. As expected, the negative responses were joy killers. Imagine facing anxiety during your day off. It is more than enough to ruin the rest of your day.

This is why I stopped checking work emails outside work hours.

Armed with the new understanding that checking emails would wreck my breaks, I consciously started staying away from work emails after the scheduled hours, on weekends and holidays. I would pull myself back from checking them. It was never easy, especially when you are anticipating a reply to an important email. But I would tell myself that enjoying the moment is of prime importance. If I were to find out I had tons of work for the next working day, I would spend my breaks coming out with an action plan. Breaks are not for making work plans! It is meant for rejuvenation.

Switching off from work made my holidays more enjoyable and relaxing. I was able to pursue my hobbies and also spend quality time with family.

I find many people around me committing this sin of checking emails post-work hours now.

A friend, during his vacation, worked almost every single day. He couldn’t stop checking his emails. Many like him tend to forget to create boundaries at work. It sends a message to your organization. That you, as a worker, are ready to work anytime, even if it is your vacation.

It is not the company’s responsibility to look after your well-being. They will never beg you to look after your own mental or physical health. They will never stop you from working after the scheduled hours or on holidays. That onus is on you!

I know many in their late 20s and early 30s who complain of backache. Each one of them works 10+ hours every day, and they have wrecked their health in the process. We overwork ourselves because we are brimming with energy, and we want to do impressive work. It is only over the years that the side effects start to show. People in their 30s and 40s are increasingly facing heart attacks. Stress is a significant contributor. There is no time to sit back and enjoy the pleasures of life. A fast-paced life only contributes to more stress.

The easiest way to kickstart your journey towards physical and mental well-being is by separating your personal and professional lives. Learn to switch off from work after the scheduled hours. If you cannot complete your work on time, learn proper time management, or better yet, ask for more time. Extra time for a project submission means improved deliverables.

The first step to post-work wellness is to sign out from your work emails.

Please do it for yourself. You highly deserve it!

An Ode to Reading Without Eye Strain

Kindle and Hot Chocolate
Kindle Love. Photo by Adrienne Andersen on Pexels

It goes without saying that our screen time has doubled (maybe even tripled) after COVID-19 induced lockdowns and quarantines. All that time indoors has made us reach for our devices. So it is not surprising when studies indicate our eye problems have worsened in the last one year or so.

For someone who is working in the field of Information Technology, spending a lot of time staring at the screen is nothing new.

But there is another problem – I love reading.

Physical copies are expensive, and there was a storage problem at home, so I had resorted to using the Kindle app. It was highly convenient. I loved it. But then the eye strain began. Dryness and a heavy feeling above my eyelid. I knew this was happening because of all the phone reading, because when I stopped, the discomfort would subside.

I realized it was time to finally invest in a Kindle.

For someone who loved reading so much, why didn’t I pick up a popular e-reader like the Kindle sooner?

  • I am frugal. I don’t buy something unless I am absolutely convinced that it would add some kind of value to my life. The reason why I wasn’t convinced is the next point.
  • I never knew Kindle was anti-glare & easy-on-the-eyes. All I heard from fellow readers was about its space-efficiency. Yes, storage was a problem at home, but that was not a serious concern for me, which leads us to the third point.
  • I was ignorant. I did not know the benefits of using a Kindle. I did not bother looking too much into it, because a) it wasn’t cheap b) mentioned in the next point.
  • I was truly happy with my Kindle app. Everything a Kindle could do, my Kindle app was able to do perfectly. The app could even highlight in colors, something the Kindle device could not do. So why even bother?

I am sure there are more, but these are the reasons at the top of my head.

A couple of days back, I finally succumbed and got this Kindle.

In just a day, my eye strain considerably reduced. I do not feel any heaviness or pain. I think I even shed a few happy tears over how relaxed my eyes feel now.

A few reasons why I got the Kindle Oasis.

  • I initially thought of getting the basic model. But through some research, I realized it is best to invest in an e-reader that offers at least 300 ppi resolution (for sharp text). The basic Kindle model has 167 ppi.
  • I thought of going for the Paperwhite next. This model generally has the best reviews. It was a close call, but what made me finally get the Oasis was the a) warm, adjustable light b) the page buttons c) a fantastic Amazon Prime Day sale!

I find the warm light really helpful & relaxing for night time reading. The page buttons are okay, but I would have been fine even without them. That said, if there wasn’t a sale going on, I would have gone for the Paperwhite.

An investment for the eyes. That’s how I would prefer to look at it.

An Ode to Not Being Positive All The Time

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Covid anxiety is real.

As the number of cases in India continue to increase, it has induced a sort of panic attack in most of us in the country.

Needless to say, I have been posting available resources (oxygen cylinders, beds) across my private social media accounts so that those who need them can utilize the info. All this fact sharing does not make for entertaining, positive, motivational or inspirational viewing. No one is going to feel happy seeing such posts.

But somehow, when you can’t really do anything else, all this resource sharing matters a huge deal for someone like me. That hope that maybe you will be able to help at least one person is what keeps you going.

Take a good look into Indian Twitter, and you will find many doing the same. Everyone wants to contribute in a way or other to help out. It is heartwarming and sad at the same time. Heartwarming because people want to help, sad because of the unending doom.

We keep seeing quotes similar to “share only the good news, share only positivity, see only positive things” but I wish we could see posts on how we need not pretend to be fine all the time. Let’s normalize NOT being positive 24×7. It’s okay to vent out. I hope venting out gets normalized.

I know happy posts (song, dance, smiles) generate a lot of positivity but I know many like me who are suffering along with the country and do not feel like indulging in entertainment as such. There’s a word for this: languish. It borders between happiness and depression and that’s what exactly many are feeling at the moment. For us, too much positivity can be draining and to be frank, slightly annoying.

If you are feeling it all way too intensely, it’s fine, as long as you are in control. If not, please reach over to a professional! Friends & family might not always give the correct advice in dealing with the situation whereas a professional is trained in handling such matters.

Stay safe and don’t forget to mask up!

An Ode to the Products That Cured 90% of My Dandruff

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I used to suffer from flaky, dandruff-prone scalp for the longest time.

It started from my teenage years. I had no idea what the contributing factor was. I was blessed with luscious hair when I was a kid but then my scalp condition deteriorated as I hit 16-17. Now I think it could have been because I had stopped oiling my hair. At least once a week, my hair was massaged thoroughly and drenched with warmed-up coconut oil – the typical South Indian routine. I used to let it sit for a minimum of one hour before washing it off with shampoo. My hair then was thick, luscious and full of life.

Owing to the fast-paced teenage life where everything needed to be finished in a jiffy and any remnant of coconut oil in your hair was considered unstylish, I had to forego my very-Indian routine to make way for more important things in life like tantrum throwing, overthinking, procrastinating, hanging out with friends – anything a normal teenager loved to indulge in. Sitting at home with oil for an hour just wasn’t feasible anymore.

I was fine with the few flakes of dandruff, to be honest. It never really bothered me, and maybe this resulted in aggravating the condition a bit. I would use anti-dandruff shampoo every time. This made my hair dull, dry and lifeless. My scalp felt drier than a desert. All those famous anti-dandruff shampoos out there? I have used them. They would work for a day or two, but they weren’t exactly a cure. As the oil production increased on my scalp due to dryness, I started getting more dandruff. Vicious cycle.

It is maybe in the last 3 or 4 years that I discovered some products that greatly helped in eliminating my dandruff by nearly 90%. I have stuck to them ever since. No experimenting with other products based on influencer reviews or recommendations. Let your body be the judge of what works best for you. If it works, stick to it.

Apple Cider Vinegar

I started off by using apple cider vinegar – a natural product. If you are facing any sort of itchiness on scalp, this product can be your inexpensive friend. You need to dilute the ACV to prevent any irritation. It is said apple cider vinegar with the mother is the best, but I found good success with the American Garden one that is a diluted version.

How to use:

  1. Mix water and apple cider vinegar (2:1).
  2. Take a cotton ball and drench it with the solution.
  3. Massage it onto your scalp. Repeat till your whole scalp is covered.
  4. Wait for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Wash off as usual. You need not use shampoo or conditioner.

Extra benefits:

  • Apple cider vinegar makes your hair softer.
  • If you use a lot of styling products, this helps to cleanse your scalp. Sometimes products dry off and end up looking like dandruff.

Use this treatment once a week.

You will immediately start noticing that your scalp is less itchy than before.

Clarifying Shampoo

Though ACV helps to cleanse your scalp quite well, it is always best to use a shampoo that is specially formulated for cleansing. A clarifying shampoo is best for the purpose. My personal favorite is Pantene’s Lively Clean. It is sensitive on my scalp and at the same time does its job of cleaning away the build up left behind by styling products.

Use this shampoo whenever your hair feels dull and weighed down.

Bringadi Oil

This ayurvedic oil was a game changer. It did not show any quick results, but with consistent use, my dandruff decreased drastically. The one I am using is the Kama Ayurveda Bringadi Oil.

How to use:

  1. Massage the oil into your scalp. Do not mix it with any other oil. You can use this on your scalp and try any other oil on the length of your hair.
  2. Warming an intensive treatment ayurvedic oil like this can alter its formula and make it less effective, so I use it without warming it up.
  3. Keep it on for an hour or more. The longer the better.
  4. Wash off with shampoo and conditioner

Pros:

It is a lightweight oil. Easy to wash off. It doesn’t leave behind a greasy look. You can even use it after styling to tame frizz.

Use this treatment once a week.

Selsun Blue Shampoo

A shampoo that helped a great deal. If you find that most anti-dandruff shampoos don’t work for you, try the Selsun Blue Shampoo. I have used all the popular ones, but this one actually works in stopping scalp itching and dandruff reoccurrence for a longer duration. I started with once a week, and now I use it once a month.

How to use:

  1. Massage it onto your scalp.
  2. Let it settle for a few minutes before washing it off.

Pros:

Effective and over time you will need to use it only once a month.

Cons:

Makes your hair dry. You will need to deep condition your hair more often. The scent is strong and not pleasing. It lingers on to the next day or even days. Took me some time to get used to it.

Start by using it once a week. Once your scalp gets better, move to using it once a month.