Time off

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It’s been a while since I wrote my last blog. More than a year has passed since the pandemic started and as probably most of us, I reached some oversaturation regarding screen time. Living abroad forces me to see most of my colleagues, friends and family on my computer if I don’t want to lose contact with them, and this adds up with additional screen time needed during the regular work and makes me really tired. Instead of looking into the screen all day, I rather choose to go for a walk in nature and talk to people on the phone. Here and there I just stand still and watch the horizon as this relaxes my eyes trained so well in shortsightedness during the past months.

While taking time off from a pandemic is not so easy, time off from academic work is deemed important. I noticed that I have exactely 2 working modes. Either I am super passionate, do not see my (limited) ressources and set too little boundaries (120% mode) or I am extremely exhausted (-10% mode) and not able to work at all. Unfortunately, there is not so much in between these two states but at least, regular 15 min. meditations helped me to become aware of this misery and also to notice ‘when things get worse’.

Getting aware about the two states at least helped me to include some preventative measures into my daily schedule. For instance, I go for a walk during home office hours or do some yoga during online seminars (camera off, of course!). Recently I got stuck in the lab until 11 pm and then informed my supevisor on the next working day that I will take half a day off for compensating this overtime. As a matter of self-care and because I felt I needed it. My supervisor told me to be okay with it, although never considering ‘such a thing’ for herself. If she knew how good the walk in the woods and the fresh air was on a Monday morning, she would take ‘the thing’ into account!

If days start being cycles of just working-eating-sleeping I tend to become more tired and discontent. What actually helps me to disrupt those cycles is doing something new, exciting stuff, e.g. visit a place I have never seen, trying a new hobby or spend time with people who have nothing to do with my everyday work (preferably someone who never saw a university from inside and rather listens to heart than head :). Also helpful is seeking activities that enhance skills rarely seen in academia. You might boo me now but I think about stuff like empathy, altruism and benefits to the public. Spending time with animals, taking dogs for a walk, helping old people or children, advocating for some charity projects, writing some blog articles, cleaning the beach or forest from plastics and the like.

After all, chilling in front of Netflix is probably also ok, albeit meaning more screen time 🙂 As long as you recover and get your head spinning around other, non-work related themes, it will help. I’ll take a walk in the woods now, it is raining and the birds are singing. Tomorrow is another lab Monday, but tomorrow has time.

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