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Aussies Know How to Relax

01 March 2012

As an American living in Australia, it doesn't take long to notice there's less stress here.  Well, maybe it takes some time to enter your conscious mind.  Stress isn't a thought, so much as it's a feeling.  It's something we are hard wired to feel and react to.  In it's absence, we feel at ease.  Relaxed.  Upon first arrival, everything feels foreign...so it takes awhile to settle in and sort out your physiological reaction to a new environment.

Once I did, however, it became clear to me that Aussies are less stressed.  The corporate culture is very different here, and the nation has a very different outlook on work-life balance.  

"I work so that I can afford to travel and have great experiences.  If I didn't get holiday time to enjoy life, then why would I work?"

If I had a dollar ten dollars for every time I heard an Aussie say that, I'd be a rich woman.  {Okay, I'd actually be able to buy half a movie ticket in this godforsaken, expensive place.}  Nevertheless, it makes sense.  People here don't feel like they owe something to their employer.  They aren't slaves to their job.  They don't have to beg, plead, and borrow to take a week four weeks off work.  

The result? Aussies know how to work hard, but they know how to relax even harder.


I honestly laughed when I was reviewing my work contract with my employer and they clearly stated that I was expected to work a full 35 hour week.  Seriously? Seriously.  A full-time work week in Australia is considered 35 hours.  

When I got to the part about vacation time, I was ready to pop some champagne.  Four.Weeks.Standard.Vacation.  Oh, and you can take an additional two weeks unpaid if you like.  

If you work for a company in Australia for 10 years, you qualify for "Long Service Leave."  This is the total cha-ching.  You get four months off, paid.  Every year you wait to take it, it gets even longer.  It's part of every labor contract....not just for fancy executives.  You can be a career waitress and get your long service leave.  

At my recent work conference in Thailand, we had a motivational speaker give a talk.  He spent many years working with professional athletes, and one of keys to elite performance he realized, is being able to "turn it on" when you need to, and "turn it off" when you don't.  You have to know how to perform, but then give even more attention to recuperating.  


It is physiological impossible for us to give 100% throughout the entire day.  In the US, it seems like we have more distractions and more demands on our attention all the time.  Not only that, our employers want to squeeze out every last drop of productivity they possibly can.  

I appreciate that my company recognizes the need for relaxation and "chill" time--to the point where they invested in a motivational speaker to come to Thailand and speak to us about it.  Australians get it.

So here's my challenge to you:

1.   Think about tomorrow's schedule.
2.   Pick 2-3 tasks or times when you need to be in "peak performance or thrill" mode {each task should be no longer than 1 hour....because the truth is that we cannot stay in peak mode for very long, even if we try to convince ourselves otherwise.}
3.   Now pick 2-3 activities or times when you can be in "chill" mode.
4.   During your "thrill" and "chill" modes, eliminate distractions {no FB, blogging, texts, etc.}
5.   Examine how you feel.  Did you find more balance in your day?

1 comment:

  1. Blog comments seem not to be working from my home computer, but now it seems as if you've either changed your comment platform or they're not working from uni, either! In any case - both my parents are in upstate NY, where I grew up, working for government agencies which are surprisingly unfriendly with their holiday benefits. I think my brother, who works at Applebee's, gets as much as both my parents!

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