A Few Words on Self-Care

I’m not going to lie: life can really suck sometimes. It seems like you are constantly on the go, never getting any time for yourself. Then, the rare time you do get a few hours free, you’re so overwhelmed with all the things you need to get done that you can’t just sit and relax. Day in, day out, it’s just go-go-go……….. until one day, it feels like you can’t go anymore.

That, my friends, is burnout. And we all get it at some point.

And yes, it really really sucks.

As I said Wednesday, my schedule is a little crazy right now. There are days, when I finally get a little me-time, when I multi-task my relaxing. I will watch TV, flip through Cosmo, read a book, have a glass or two of wine, and take notes for writing projects, all at the same time. And it’s really not healthy.

There will come a time when all of this go-go-go will start to get to you. It will be harder to get out of bed in the morning, and harder to fall asleep at night. Maybe you won’t be able to quiet your brain at night, or turn it back on when you need it most. You’ll spend your free moments making to-do lists, going over what you need to get done.

At one point in my University career, my health and body just gave up. I was taking 4 classes a semester, working two on-campus jobs (research assistant, and teaching assistant). I was on the Board of Directors for an activist group, and headed up their Fundraising and Events Planning committee. I volunteered in our campus Academic Advising Centre. I helped run Welcome Week events, gave talks to parents of prospective students, recruited students for multiple on-campus organizations, volunteered at local Fraternity events, joined the association for my major AND the one for one of my minors, and did independent research into what I had wanted to do a Psych Thesis on.

Then my health got in the way. First was the ear infection that winter, which got so bad it gave me random bouts of vertigo. This resulted in me passing out in a 7-11 near campus, and having to be rushed my ambulance to the hospital.  Then, the food poisoning hit me that summer. After spending 7 months researching e.coli as part of my job, I got a mild case of it. And by mild, I mean I spent 4 days in the bathroom, and had to be put on an IV for fluids more than once in a two week span. The real kicker came at the end of the summer, when I was gearing up for the next school year.

In the midst of thesis advisor meetings, preliminary research, summer class finals, a new workout regime, Welcome Week preparations, and a long-distance relationship, my mother had to rush me to the hospital. One day I woke up, and was so weak I couldn’t get out of bed. It took me 45 minutes to crawl across my bedroom, and down the hall less than 8 feet to the bathroom. Once there, all I could do was vomit. Then the headache started. I was put in isolation at the hospital for three days, while they gave me morphine and dilauded to try and stop the pain in my head (and they didn’t work, either). After blood work, a lumbar puncture, brain scans, and a fever of 105, the doctor told me it looked like West Nile.

This was my wake-up. I had to slow down, or else my recovery could kill me. I was under strict orders not to exercise, or over exert myself. I dropped down to 3 classes, and eventually dropped my Thesis due to the stress. I started planning more, procrastinating less, and getting things done bit by bit instead of a giant panic all at once. I even (mostly) gave up my all-nighters. Instead of trying to run committees I had no interest in and didn’t even like being a part of, I stayed home and watched Buffy on Netflix with the boyfriend (once he was back in town for school).

Basically, I gave up what I didn’t need. Why bother staying a part of an organization I was getting nothing out of, and wasn’t fully contributing to, when I could focus on the things that mattered most? When I had some health set-backs (most likely due to that fever that wouldn’t break causing a bit of damage that needed time to heal), I didn’t have to worry about getting in touch with 40 people to cover all my extra-curriculars while I was in hospital. I could just focus on being healthy.

Today, I still have a hectic schedule. I take time for me now, though. I’ll watch Netflix on my phone on my lunch break. I’ll make a point of painting my nails once or twice a week, so I’m forced to relax while they dry. Once a month, I take a half-day on a Sunday to just do all the stupid beauty crap I would normally put off, like dyeing my hair and putting on a face mask.And I take 20 minutes each night, right before bed, to just sit in my room, alone, and daydream.

I take care of me, now. And you should do the same for you, too. Yes, you can have your packed schedule, and your Do-It-All mentality. But you also need to have a Don’t-Work-Yourself-Into-An-Early-Grave mentality. When you start to feel worn down, that is your body’s way of telling you slow down a bit. So schedule in some time to relax, do a little something for you each day.

In the immortal words of the 90’s sexiest FBI agent, Dale Cooper, “Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it. Don’t wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men’s store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot black coffee.”

Damn good coffee!

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I know, I’ve been quiet for a while now. I’m on assignment on a temp job, working 8:30am until 4:30pm, which means I’m up and out of bed at 6am. Some days, after a full 8 hours in the office, I have my awesome night job, which is 5:15pm until 9:15pm. Weekends are filled with my awesome night job, doing ALL the laundry and grocery shopping, catching up on chores, and having a little too much wine with my dinner.

There are days where I leave the house at 8am and don’t get home until a little after 10pm. That’s 14 hours of work and commute. Add to that the 2 hours of prepping for the day in the morning, and night time prep for the next day (and for bed), and studying for my product knowledge tests for my night job…… and I’m running on empty here. There have been days when I don’t have to go to my night job, and just go home and collapse on my bed for a few hours out of sheer exhaustion.

(It also doesn’t help that the boyfriend seems to be dreaming that he’s a chainsaw or a motorcycle every night, complete with impressions right in my ear. That really cuts into what little sleep I can get each night.)

Needless to say, I can’t keep up with everything I did around the house when I was only working 12 hours a week. And honestly, with 4 other people living there, I shouldn’t have to.

You see, as much as one of my roommates would argue against this, I am the main roommate when it comes to cleaning things up. Yes, he likes to scrub the bathroom and wash the towels and clean the counters. But I am the only one who sweeps, vacuums, mops, washing crud off the walls, organizes the cupboards so things can fit in them, cleans the fridge (even when it’s someone else who spills stuff in there), or does anything else that everyone else should be doing.

And it’s driving me up the wall.

I may have mentioned before that the two roommates who live in our basement (we refer to them as The Tweedles: TweedleDee and TweedleDumbass) don’t exactly clean. They leave food dried to the counters and stove, wash their dishes with cold water, and leave crud stuck to the outside of pots and pans. Last week, while the school was on Winter Break, I had to go into the basement to check the seal on their shower…… and I broke out in hives. I’m allergic to mold, and their bathroom is full of it. It hasn’t been cleaned since they moved in this past September! Their bathroom was also, for some reason, full of cups, glasses, silverware, and bowls. They have bags of garbage piled up in their common room (which they have claimed completely as their own, and use as a giant laundry hamper now).

Last night, after coming home from a very long 14 hour day, I walked in on them using MY dish soap and sponges to clean off their dinner plates. Then, they left dirty pots, pans, and glasses all over the food-encrusted counter.

And I have bloody-well had enough!

No one should have the burden of caring for a shared house/apartment/dorm room/shared van down by the river all by themselves. If there are multiple people living in a space, then there should be multiple people cleaning and caring for that space. It’s not hard: clean up after yourself! Divide up the larger jobs, like mopping and vacuuming, and do your share.

So if you seem to have a cleaning fairy that swoops in and cleans up all your messes for you, wake up! If you’re not cleaning up after yourself, then someone else is. Unless you are paying that person do clean for you, they are not your maid. So be a grown-up, and clean up your own damn messes.

Sorry!

Sorry for the silence the last few weeks. Things got a little bit…………. yeah……..

Well, for starters, I got a temp job. So I’m working 8 hours a day at my Alma Matter. Then, a few nights a week, I have my Customer Service job. So there are days where, I’m out the door by 8am to get to one job, leave from that job to go right to my other one, and don’t get home until around 10pm. So, I’ve been more than a little wiped out!

Secondly, my brother is moving home! He took a job in Sweden to teach a while back. He was doing great there, until our grandma got sick and passed away. Right after that, it stopped being sunny there (they get like 3 hours of sunlight a day at one point in the year). With his SADD, his long-distance relationship (boyfriend is here in our home town), and a lot of conflict at work, he decided to end his term there early and move home. So I’ve been helping the family deal with that (some see it as a mistake, some are worried about him, some are mad at him…….. it’s a little bit nuts).

On top of all that, my boyfriend and I started taking a good hard look at our financial situation. We want to move into a new place in the next 18 months. But I have credit cards I was living on when I was out of work (NEVER DO THAT!!!!!! I’ll talk more about that another day), a whole lot of Student Loan debt, and my day job is only a temp position. He is looking at going back to college for a year to upgrade his skills for a better job, and has taken on more responsibility at his Army job. So we’ve been spending a lot of time with that.

Add to that three roommates who drive me absolutely batty, some of the coldest temperatures and wind chill in recent history (and me walking to work in this every single day), our massive “Let’s get rid of a tonne of our junk and clear out the house” thing we’ve been working on (I have half a dozen boxes of donations stacked up in my room, and can’t get around them!!), and a new Costco membership to break in………. and I have no time for Internet!!!

I’m managing my time a bit better now, though. I’ll be colour-coding my day planner again, so I can make sure to make time for this blog. And in my down time at my day job, I’ll be switching between my Writing for Children online course, and making notes for this blog.

So see you all again soon!