The working wounded: advocates inaugurate a national day of rest

The working wounded: advocates inaugurate a national day of rest

Thomas Sexton

John de Graaf thinks you should just relax.

Americans work more, on average, than employees in any other industrialized country. We make do with two weeks paid vacation while the average European worker gets five to six weeks. In the last decade, we’ve worked even more hours per day and days per week than ever before.

So de Graaf and his fellow organizers are encouraging people to show their concern for overwork by, well … taking the day off. They are promoting Oct. 24 as “Take Back Your Time Day,” a nationwide recognition that our overworked, overcommitted, overstressed lives are driving us all crazy.

But Time Day, as the organizers call it, should not just be an opportunity to get reacquainted with your couch, says de Graaf, a documentary-filmmaker-turned-free-time-activist.

Just as Earth Day became a focal point for the environmental movement, de Graaf and his co-organizers want Time Day to spark a new attitude toward the nine-to-five. They are encouraging people to attend local events where they can commiserate about their own busy lives and learn how overwork affects health, the environment and family.

But in this work-obsessed society, will anybody voluntarily cut back? “People are so stressed out,” says Barbara Brandt, a Boston-area activist for shorter work hours. “They’re desperate.”

The organizers chose Oct. 24 because the remaining weeks in the year symbolize the additional time on the job that Americans endure compared with their European brethren.

To find out about local events, see the website at

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