Personal Life Update 10
First off, happy Easter to those who are celebrating today! Given the holiday, and many schools being on spring break either last week or this week, things have been a bit slower for me. That means time to finally get caught up on some things, relax, plan for upcoming things, and even write a blog post. (There are more psych-related posts in the works, for those who are waiting for more of those).
In terms of things that are wrapping up, a few big ones come to mind: a manuscript I've been working on is almost ready for submission (just waiting on feedback from co-authors), my dissertation proposal is moving along nicely and is almost ready for an initial review by my readers, DePaul's winter quarter just wrapped up so my previous TA responsibilities are about done, plans for the next year are being finalized, and the poster I'll be presenting in a few weeks in Atlanta is about done. There's probably more, but those are the main ones that come to mind.
During this transition time, I'm trying to look back at what things have gone well so far this year, and what things can be improved. So far the year has been productive, but at a cost of tiring myself out. Getting to relax more this past week has definitely been nice, and I'm trying to look forward to what can be changed in order to prevent burnout. Part of that is trying to limit how many new things I take on to replace what has been finished, or at least to make sure that the new tasks are less time-consuming.
For example, the TA work I'll be doing this next quarter should require less time. I'll be working on another manuscript, but that will incorporate more co-authors who can help with the writing. Staying consistent with my dissertation should make it easy to work on it bit-by-bit, especially as I eventually progress into collecting the data.
In terms of what I'll do with the time that I recover...well, that's hard to say. Saying "practice more self-care" sounds nice, but what does that actually end up looking like? This past week has been relatively chill as I've rested, involving watching TV/videos, playing some Stardew Valley, and occasionally enjoying the warmer weather. But as I find myself about to start the next week, a sense of...boredom (I guess that's the most appropriate term) is creeping in.
To an extent that's good; it suggests there's been enough rest to move on to other things. The challenge is making sure those other things aren't only work-related tasks. It needs to be something that helps to bring about a mindful experience, to trigger "flow."
Today that meant doing a little work on this site. If you look around, you may notice a few of the changes: colorful titles for blog posts, images at the top of blog posts stretching the full width of the post, removal of the textured background (was too slow to load), and the addition of "Click to load" links for my presentations on the research and resources pages (to load things faster and prevent unnecessary data use on mobile networks). That's certainly a good start, it's just a matter of figuring out what tasks come next (either with the website, or elsewhere). And that's not something I have the answer to quite yet.
The reason I'm discussing this topic is to help others either in grad programs, or considering grad programs, to get a sense of the experience outside of work. I don't want these posts to be all about "look at everything I've accomplished," which is only part of the picture and may cause others to feel pressured to work 24/7. Burnout is real, and recovery from it isn't always as simple as it seems (or as we sometimes make it sound to clients). Exercise, good sleep habits, good diet...those are all important, but sometimes you just need to detach for a bit and rest. It's easy to feel guilty doing so, but in the end it's what may be needed to regain energy to get more work done.
Anyway, I don't want to go on too much about this topic. After all, it's a holiday weekend, and some more unplugged relaxation is called for.
Look forward to a new podcast episode this week, and hopefully another blog post later in the week. Until then, take care!