- Auf dem Zahnfleisch kriechend: By the skin of our teeth
- How to find the energy for the semester ahead?
- Budgeting my Energy-Spending
Auf dem Zahnfleisch kriechend: By the skin of our teeth
We made it!
Granted: rough and ready, stumbling into the new year, still exhausted and tired from infections, and right away into the emergency room in the hospital. Anxiously waiting for ten hours for my MiL’s life to be saved, which it was.
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With tired eyes we observed people crowding corridors, police waiting all day with a delinquent of sorts, nurses run off their feet, doctors barely able to make it through the onslaught of patients. Any yet, every single healthcare worker from auxiliaries to doctors was kind, nice, caring. My SiL brought a thank you hamper with Christmas goodies down once MiL was stable and in the ward and there was space to breathe again.
So that was day two of 2023, the old year ended with virus infections (yes several), and COVID in the house; and a stubborn Labyrinthitis is still clinging on for dear life–and so do I to furniture as the world sways like a ship at high sea.
This is the second year, I begin after significant illness in December, utterly exhausted and wiped out. From what I hear, we are by far not the only ones in this situation.
How to find the energy for the semester ahead?
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Budgeting my Energy-Spending
Budgeting. This is what I decided. I will budget my energy. I am not good with this. I know. I like working and my work, so budgeting does not come easy. How do you budget your energy? I am always looking for tips!
Example: So for instance, someone decided it would be a good idea to organise a two hours in person meeting in the first week of semester. Yes, the busiest week with all the courses starting up again, student emails about enrolment etc.
This is a meeting we were strongly advised to attend. So my way of budgeting, I will bring my lunchbreak forward, and go for a walk after the meeting to reset and recover.
Budgeting 01: Boundaries
This is a work in progress. So for now, being more mindful of noticing when my boundaries are breached is a good first step. Maybe begin to write down where I am overstepping my boundaries, and how to reinforce them. I will let you know how I get on. If you have any ideas I would be grateful!
Mind you a gentle way of boundary setting! A colleague who is much better in boundary setting did so in a rather rattling way, and I do not want to add to anyone’s stress or create a situation that causes heightened emotional responses because we are all tired. I want to take pressure out of the system not add more.
Budgeting 02: Self-Care
My friend just told me she read an article with advice on longevity and the point that drew her attention was: treat your body like a house you want to keep living in for the next however many decades. Good advice also for general health and well-being.
- Eating well, is an act of self-care.
- Going for walks and other exercise, is an act of self-care.
- Rest, is an act of self-care.
Example I am having a busy week and the To Do List seems never-ending (ever growing), I feel to 'keep on top' I have to skip my lunchtime or early morning walk, or I skip going for a swim, or doing my back-exercise (not a good idea for the person with chronic pain).
Budgeting Strategy Create some visual cues that help me remember to prioritise health and well-being. Such as: - There is no such thing as catching up! - Skipping rest and recovery (such as exercise, and walks) will cost me later - I will get more work done after a break! - Headache and tiredness is my body telling me to take that break.
Just before the Christmas break I had a brilliant example for how taking a break is giving me back time to work. Even if it sounds counterintuitively.
Budgeting 03: Save time by taking a break
So I am part of the creativeHE steering committee (here is a plug to join us in our lunch time sessions) and in early December one of the lunchtime sessions was simply a creative make-along. One of our colleagues suggested a craft activity.
I was so stressed with marking and wrapping up for the year. I felt I could not afford (see budgeting) to take the one hour break to meet colleagues from all over the country for an hour of crafting and a blether.
However, this time I noticed the guilt that comes with the illusion of being able to catch-up. And once again it was about to stop me taking a break.
Mind you at this point, I had struggled with marking, as my focus was waning, and the marking took longer and longer.
I noticed, and stopped myself, and took that break–yes, rather proud of myself for that!
Not only did we make some nice Christmas decorations, and had an amicable chat. This one hour, my brain was in flow. I was relaxed.
What surprised me most though: after the break, I had my full focus back, finishing all my marking during this afternoon! Given how the morning went I had estimated it would take me until at least lunchtime next day!
Lesson: That one hour investment in self-care and rest, effectively saved me about three hours of work.
Budgeting 04: Creativity
Or any hobby that brings you joy. Something you do that has no wider purpose than to bring you joy. Playing an instrument, taking photos, drawing, painting, writing, baking, sewing, woodwork, skateboarding, playing videogames, LARP etc
For me this is writing and drawing and painting. This year I got myself an art course as present with our Short Courses Program I mean we get staff discount, I basically had to do it!
You don’t need to spend money, there are many free classes and how to instructions on various social media platforms. This year booking a course was the right thing for me, to deliberately carve out time.
So these are my little budgeting strategies so far for entering, stumbling rather, into a new year, of yet unknown challenges, and trying to safeguard the resources I need to face these challenges.
4 thoughts on “Happy New Year”
Happy New Year Nathalie! Thank you very much for sharing this excellent post. I love the perspective of “investing” in self care. I have set myself a goal of walking 10,000 steps daily. This could be easily achieved by many but I often find myself only putting in less than 3000 steps a day. When I take long walks, it gives me time to reflect and collect my thoughts, taking pressure out of the system as you had put it across very well.
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How is this goal going so far? 🙂
Thanks for asking. I have been a wee bit successful in December when temperatures were not so high. Wish me luck in figuring out a routine that will work for the longer term. =)
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Good Luck! 🙂