Pajama Therapy

Posted on April 15, 2011


It’s Friday afternoon at 5 o’clock.  You have a headache from staring at your computer screen and a backache from sitting in the same ergonomically- incorrect chair for 45+ hours this week.  You walk to the car (it actually resembles more of a sprint), and just barely avoid an interaction with “that” co-worker before you slam your car door shut.  You decide that today is not a day for your indie CDs full of mellow music, so you hit the FM button to hear the music that everyone else in Boston is blasting on their commute home from work.

And then you get home and don’t do, well, anything.  You put on your sweatpants, curl up on the couch, and catch up on all those episodes of ___ that you have been dying to see with the help of Netflix, TIVO, or Hulu.  You also decide to order-in from your favorite variety of greasy take-out food (delivery, even though it is literally a block away).  You text your friend about how lazy you are being so that they will text back, “Whatever! After the week you just had, you deserve it.”  After eating way too much food and watching way too much TV, you head to bed, where you sleep for approximately the next 2 days.   All of a sudden, it is Sunday afternoon.  You are guilty, groggy, and stressed, running around, trying to do all the things that you should have been doing all weekend.

Sound familiar? Whether it’s you, your best friend, or your roommate, we all know someone (for example, you know me) who de-stresses in this way.  I like to call it Pajama Therapy.

Pajama Therapy  [puh-jah-muh,-jam-uh] [ther-uh-pee] –noun

1. Treatment intended to relieve or heal the part of the psyche that is permanently scarred by the work-week (see also: life).

 2. The treatment of mental or psychological disorders by participating in activities that lack any semblance of meaning and/or purpose.

Although most forms of Pajama Therapy occur while wearing pajamas, it can also occur while in high heels, a short skirt, and make-up (less clothing, and more makeup, than you wear Monday through Friday combined).  Getting drunk is just another version of the numbing nature of Pajama Therapy.  It’s a self-medication, an attempt to recover from the stress of our week or our life.  And the fact that it is so devoid of all meaning and purpose is usually a reflection of the fact that our work week felt the exact same way.

My Bank of America online account has a tool that shows you a little pie-chart of all the month’s spending.  You can see what percentage of money you spent on Food, Entertainment, Clothing, Bills, etc.  Sometimes it’s horrifying (“I spent WHAT percent on gas??”), but it’s always helpful.  Sometimes, we forget that time is a limited resource- even more limited than our money.

If you work 45 hours a week, that is 27% of your time.

If you sleep 7 hours a night, that is 29% of your time.

What are you going to do with the rest?

I mean the thing is, if you spend the whole work day counting down the hours until you go home, and then the whole commute you are blasting music so you can just get there already, and then you get home and need Pajama Therapy, and then you do that 4 more times, until it’s finally Friday and time for more Pajama Therapy all weekend, and then it’s 52 weeks later and you’ve finally earned vacation time, so you fly to St. Lucia for two weeks (for Pajama Therapy), and then you repeat all of that 50 more times, and then you’re 70 so you can finally retire and move to Florida, living a life of permanent Pajama Therapy…

…what part of your life is spent doing something that you care about?

I promise I am not trying to be the catalyst of your mid-life crisis.  But I do think that we need to take this question seriously, so that we don’t reach 70, lean back and our lawn chairs and think, “What did I just do?” 

Here are a few ways to start living your life on purpose.

 1)      Invest in your Job

You hate your job.  I know this because 1) you are not my dad and 2) my dad is the only person I know who loves his job.  Believe me, I know what it’s like to be paid nothing (I worked for AmeriCorps), or have an unclear job description, or have annoying co-workers.  Every single one of us has a reason to complain. But what if instead of having a job that is a means to an end, we make it one of the things in our life that matters?  Not all of us are curing cancer or saving all of the children, but I am convinced that even the most mundane jobs have a level of meaning.  Fit it in with your small ethics (i.e doing your best at everything that you do, or treating others as you would treat yourself), because they will piece together to form much bigger ones. And if your job goes against what you believe, and even your small ethics can’t fit, you’re at the wrong job!

 2)      Do Something

So you aren’t passionate about making phone calls for your boss.  Well then, what are you passionate about?  Find an opportunity to invest in it.  What if you decided to donate just 2 hours of your week (1% of your time) to something that you believe in?

Do you have an awesome skill that is not being used at your job? Find a non-profit that needs someone a few hours a week and keep your passion alive (  

Can you play foosball?  Imagine what it would have meant to you as a middle schooler to have someone chill with you every week while asking about your day and caring about you as a person. Come volunteer with me at the middle school youth group at my church, and you can be the mentor to middle schoolers that you never had yourself. 

3)      Do Nothing

You read that right. I don’t think that Pajama Therapy should be kicked out the window, or that it is “bad.” But I think that is much more helpful, and actually therapeutic, when we do it on purpose.  A lot of times, Pajama Therapy happens by accident (well, I guess I’ll watch just one more episode of Lost…), and all of a sudden, 3 hours are gone, you ate more than you intended, and you actually don’t feel rested at all.  But what if you purposefully set aside those 3 hours, so that they are guilt-free, relaxed, and spent in the most beneficially restful way possible?  By the way, God invented this one.

So this Friday, as you zoom down the freeway blasting Usher and beeping your horn at fellow Bostonians, consider how you will spend your time this weekend.  I’d love to hear what your form of Pajama Therapy is, and what the areas of your life are that you are passionate about.  And don’t forget to wave as I cut you off on 95 on the commute home 😉