Sunday, November 8, 2015

Check-In with Notes about Needing to Learn How to Relax

So what follows is my check-in this week for Top Left Quadrant, but what I'd like to note here is that I've gotten a cognitive-behavioral workbook on de-stressing and relaxation because I absolutely must take care of my health and this is the way to do it.  (It's a great book because in the first chapters the authors show the clear connections between stress and disease, building in exactly the kind of increased motivation I need.)  It kind of blows my mind that I need a workbook to help me relax.  It seems like an intelligent and learned person shouldn't need something like this, but this just proves that a smart person isn't necessarily smart at everything.  I used to joke that I not only lit my candle at both ends but in the middle for good measure.  I cannot do that anymore.  My various health problems make it abundantly clear that such an approach diminishes my quality of life (because chest pains, sciatica pain, etc. sucks) and will shorten my life.  I have a lot of stuff I still want to do, including see Absurdist Child grow up, write some things, and enjoy life with Absurdist Lover!  So it's really important that I don't get into the stress-to-get-things-done illness cycle.

By the way, the theme of the week is the ideal environment for sleep, so that's where I start.  I know -- riveting stuff, right?  Things will not always be like this.  I will one day be able to blog some of the crap going on around my department.  But just not now.

Oh wow, ideal environment for sleep?  Mostly I have what I need for good sleep -- blackout curtains, a mattress that is a bit firmer than I would like but still good, etc. -- but I need more time.

This week I really noticed that sometimes I stay up late and don't get enough sleep because between the high volume of work and my high-energy kid at home, I feel cheated out of any kind of me-focused time, whether that's escapism (which is purposeful as I desperately need to exit my life and focus elsewhere as the stress mounts) or refilling the creative wellspring.  The wise thing to do might be to remember that it won't always be this way and go to sleep anyway, but on the other hand, I'm learning I really do need that time to de-stress and relax.  A 28-hour day would be ideal, with those 4 hours for extra sleep.  More in line with the limits of the real world, trying to get Absurdist Child to go to sleep earlier might help me get some time for myself.  The other issue is getting Absurdist Child to stay in his own bed instead of coming in every night into ours.  He and I have talked about why he does this, and I think it's just a habit, not borne out of some fear.  So we'll work on it.

Last Week's Goals
-order book on destressing and relaxation:  YES, and it's awesome!
-have some down time every day:  I tried.  Transition time is hard.  I'm working on developing better skills and strategies here, thanks to the above book.
-make sure I get enough sleep and take good care of my health (am going to the doctor today, so I'm working on this!):  balancing sleep with me-time was a key challenge, as noted above
-get to grading asap, but in a reasonable and not totally-stressed out way:  I'm so behind now, it's ridiculous, but I've prioritized not making myself sick
-work a bit on Tiny Article due in Two Weeks in small bits (it would be great if I could sit down and schedule this, but I don't know about that):  starting yesterday, I've begun scheduling 30-min sessions on it in the morning, and WOW it's amazing what can get done in 30 minutes!
-pick a book related to Big Project to be my go-to book so I can feel productive instead of spending my time looking for a book and then reading something I really don't need to read (like a magazine) that doesn't get me anywhere (in terms of feeling productive):  I haven't done this, but I think my go-to book for now is the relaxation and de-stressing book
-try to remember that it won't always be like this:  uh huh
-remember that nothing is worth killing myself over, especially bozo colleagues with antediluvian ideas that are unjust. move like water.:  I got mad a bit this week, though far better than last week, and I got stressed about something, but I turned the stress into a productive work schedule, so some very important things are moving forward, and I'm not stressing about it because the work sessions are scheduled so what is there to stress about?

This is a time when I'm relearning how to get things done.  Before I got tenure, it seemed reasonable to make myself sick over grading, for example.  (I'd rush to get something done, even though I'm perennially behind, and then get sick right after.)  Now tenured but with health problems, this trade-off doesn't suit me anymore.  So I'm rethinking assignments that pose particular challenges for grading, including the assignment that is currently killing me, which is good because I'll be teaching this particular course each quarter this year.  So this is a good time to figure that out. 

Goals for the Upcoming Week

1.  Keep up a decent grading pace, which unfortunately includes the stress of telling my family to leave me alone (repeatedly because 7-year olds just don't get it).
2.  Some kind of relaxation work each day, whether that's escapism (watching shows), working on the relaxation workbook, or tuning in to some kind of creative well-filling activity.  (Making a list of these might help the transition issue, but I don't know I can do that this week.)
3. 30-minutes daily on Tiny Article.  It will get done by Friday.  Yes, it will.  Even after two sessions, it's much better than it was, so don't stress about this.  Don't think about it.  Just do it.
4. Magnesium.  Take it daily.
5. Do leg lifts and crunches while watching shows at night.
6. Continue to prioritize eating at regular intervals for good energy all day long. 
7. Don't expect anything of yourself after long teaching days.
8. Instead of stressing, see what service you can scoot over or enlist help with.  (Had a great conversation with a colleague who is sweetly worried about my health who asked why I don't go and get out of one service commitment that is pretty much languishing.  She's right.)  Don't get involved in big arguments because chest pains suck. 
9. Nothing is worth killing yourself over.  Move like water. --> recite mantra at will.


What Now? said...

What is this fabulous workbook? Title and authors' names, please!

Is your "move like water" mantra about trying to flow around obstacles rather than to get stuck on them?

Earnest English said...

It's The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook, 6th edition by Davis, Eshelman and McKay. I like that the cover says "simple, concise, step-by-step directions."

I'm less worried about getting stuck on obstacles, but more that I'll waste myself on pushing against them instead of going around. I have to actively try to be mellow and not get worked up. Of course there's lots to get worked up about.

undine said...

Your last sentence says it all: nothing is worth killing yourself over with exhaustion, so take care.

Sisyphus said...

So, are you doing those "adult meditation coloring books" that all those other people on my Facebook feed are doing?

What Now? said...

I have now tagged that book at my local public library. All copies are currently in use; clearly the folks of Adventure City need relaxation and stress reduction!