How do I relax?
Yes, once again I am trying to force myself to do nothing useful. Or rather to do useful things for myself instead of for others. My mental health has run ragged since the pandemic hit and it only got worse as the year progressed. Since winter time is particularly difficult for me to deal, I plan on some decompression time. I’ve talked about it before, but what’s the point of blogging daily if I can’t talk about it again?
Sometimes I get caught in a vicious work loop. I do some work, find that I have twice as much work to do when I finished that part of it, then repeat ad infinitum. It’s sneaky too, you start feeling productive because you’ve done so much and it seems like if you do just a little bit more, you’ll get a break. Yet you just keep working yourself further into a hole and by the time you realize what’s happened you’re unable to dig yourself back out.
Let’s face it, that’s not a healthy way to do things and while academia prizes that type of work, I refuse to play that way. I’ve come too far with my mental health to fall back down that far and not worry about myself or my wellbeing. The pandemic and people ignoring the death toll/reality hasn’t helped either, but those are things I can’t control and I’ve learned that while outside influences can affect my mental health, I should focus on the things I do have control over. Which is why I write about the pandemic and beg people to stay home, but also take breaks for myself like I have been this past week.
Over the past week or so I’ve done a bit of woodworking, which I will continue the next few days or so (to wrap up the project… finally!) and I’ve even done a bit of baking. Basically I’m doing the stuff that is beneficial to me instead of the stuff that society, or rather school, tells me I should be focusing on. The reason simple, deadlines are mostly a construct and while I have some far off deadlines that are nebulous and changing, I have no real firm/set deadlines in the near future so nothing NEEDS to be done now. It will be there waiting for me when I am ready.
I think overall the main idea here is that most work can wait and frankly by taking a break I can get it done faster than if I just tried to do it continuously. Have you ever just tried to power through some work only to find yourself staring at a blank page on a computer screen for half or more of the day? I know I have! The idea that we can be 100% productive 100% of the time is part of the reason why my mental health took such a nose dive for so long. In reality taking some time in between work means I’m more efficient when I do actually sit down to get something done and the end result is my work is finished faster and I got to take a break in there.
Long story short, I’m taking a nice long break because I wasn’t able to for so long. I’ve earned it damn it. Maybe woodworking, reading, and baking isn’t your idea of relaxing and that’s fine. Figure out what works best for you, you don’t have to copy me! And for anyone else doing the PhD thing and realizing they haven’t had a break in forever, you can do it too, trust me.