Breathe and reboot

Good bye motivation….hello spring break! I’ve been looking for you and alas, you have been found!  Wait, what?  A full work week?  Shucks.  Just like growing up and having to milk those cows, it seems like this new faculty has also given up spring break for her hypothetical ‘cow’ — work.

Please, don’t cry for me Argentina….I love working–campus is quieter, no one is emailing me incessantly, stalking me, wanting to know when i can meet them, answer them, or just be at their beckon call–oh wait, that’s my supervisor 🙂 just kidding.  But seriously, spring break for any new faculty can be a good time to breathe and reboot.  Even if you can’t steal away for the week or long weekend, it’s a great time to stand back and reflect.

How am I doing-mentally, physically, emotionally?  Not bad, no gray hairs have sprouted yet.  I’ve shed the few lbs. I packed on eating like a champion last week and haven’t broke down in tears lately…..How is my work/home life balance going? Uhhhhhh…….I was home in time for the evening news last night?  I actually made dinner and talked to my dad on the phone for a while.  I even managed to stay up long enough to watch some bad tv w/ PIC.  Three days a week, I accept that I won’t roll into the house much before the news, but the two days a week that I don’t have to be off campus during the afternoons, I try to be done and home by a normal time.  I have also found time for yoga during the week, something I never did in grad school.  How is work going?  Work = a mile a minute.  I have needed to slow it down a bit and am thankful this week is here.  I was always a firm believer that the vacations in public school and university were built in for faculty/staff just as much as the students. I stand by my opinion. Work is going well: I feel happy and productive, I think folks are happy with my performance, research is moving along, the students I work with are all happily vacationing, and I am knee deep in grants to review.

As a new faculty, it’s important to not only stand back and take stock, but also take those mental breaks when you need them.  After a full morning of meetings yesterday, I went back to my office and did….nothing. I went to the gym, ate lunch, and headed out to my school site.  Later this week, I need to go have the oil changed in my car before the ‘beep, beep, beep’ explodes right out of the dash trying to warn me that my corolla is in fact, hurting for some new fluids. I will even go out to lunch at a local hot spot since the students are all gone.

Breathe and reboot. We all need the time.  Even my boss said to me during our weekly meeting at Starbucks, “I need spring break, I’m totally unmotivated today.” And you know what?  That’s ok. As we rush around teaching, collecting, analyzing, and writing our faces off, we need to accept the fact that we need to shut it down for a while.  Huff post had a travel article and American’s are the worst vacationers, taking about 17 days off per year. While my dairy farmer parents take less than that, there is something to be said for taking some time off. I will admit: my parents take several vacations a year now, they are lucky to have excellent help and we are all meeting in a few weeks for a fun week/long weekend at Lake Norman.

What’s my plan for a little down time this week?  After reviewing and entering this pile o’fun grants, I plan on taking care of some ‘life things’, spending a few dollars at the local craft store for some more fun projects, reading the book I downloaded to my iPad, going for drinks with PIC, and hanging out with my dvr on saturday morning to catch up. I don’t feel guilty. I don’t feel like I should be doing something else. I feel like I’ve earned a few hours of slow time.

How do you breathe and reboot?  What else can you do to help fight burnout and fatigue?  As a new faculty member, it might be one of the more important things you do in order to remain happy, productive, and sane. Take a step back and reflect on how things are going.  Seek feedback from those that are important since they may have a complimentary or different perspective.  Take some time, even if it is for an oil change and lunch out, to do some of those normal ‘life things’ that often get neglected.  Enjoy your mental spring break!

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