Blogging (and otherwise disclosing) helps. Once I acknowledged that I had only myself to blame for my increasing (rather than decreasing) stress, I stepped back and looked at the calendar. I took stock of what I had accomplished to that point in the summer, and how much time was left to work on the rest. I felt relief from realizing that the balance looked much better than I expected. I also asked myself what really needs to be finished this summer, by when, and whether these goals are realistic; what will I lose if I fall behind on X? Finally, I looked ahead to the 2015-2016 academic year and accepted that I cannot take on any additional commitments until next summer. And I started saying no in advance.
Travel helps. My reality-testing process received the assistance of two recent road trips. One was a four-day, combined work/leisure trip. This split left me able to feel good about getting some work done with collaborators in addition to not working and catching up with graduate school friends. Importantly, I made the 2.5-hour commutes alone, so I had time to myself to think and space out as needed. I came back tired from a strange sleep schedule, but more relaxed than I have been in a while.
The second trip was more hectic: PA --> VT --> MA --> PA in four days, celebrating a wedding and an engagement. The wedding was lovely and afforded several unique opportunities. I'm not a country girl, and getting away to rural VT was a new experience. Actual country stores that are not operated by Cracker Barrel? I just wish I'd had more time to explore; I was there for less than 24 hours and it rained most of the time. But I also got to reconnect with more graduate school friends, which always leaves me feeling grounded. Then on to MA. As I'm the matron of honor* for the engaged couple (wedding in August of 2016), and as I live several states away from the action, I made an effort to fulfill some role expectations during the trip. As far as I can tell, it worked out well for everyone!
|Our resort in Ludlow, VT|
During this four-day excursion, I did not work. I checked email only sporadically. I responded only to urgent messages. Very unusual for me. But very healthy. And nothing went wrong without my replies.
This is your life moment of the week. I returned to work today feeling less stressed than I have in a while, and I was able to complete tasks such as cleaning out my email inbox and writing this post. I also met with our Office of Sponsored Programs about a grant and upgraded another short trip I'm about to take. And I'll end the workday with an exercise class that makes me feel great. This is more like the summer I had planned.
*Matron? Really? Sounds so old....