Friday, October 19, 2012

Taking a Mental Health Day

I wasn't going to write a blog post today, because I was going to take a mental health day. You know, in-between teaching two classes, prepping others for next week, starting to mark the stack of eighty essays, picking kids up from daycare, arranging for Hallowe'en costumes for them, etc. etc. etc. But then I though the topic might be a good one to tackle (plus, I felt guilty for not writing a blog post on my allotted day).

It's the middle of the first academic term of the year, and things are probably never going to be busier or crazier than now. So, how does one take care of one's mental health with all these tasks piling up on one's metaphorical desk? How do you take care of yourself, so you can take care of your work, your family, your friends, your community, too?

My short answer is "I don't know anymore."During grad school, I used to be very good at it: I ran regularly, I took time off when I felt like I needed it, and met friends for coffee or lunch (what seems like) all the time. Of course, I also either didn't teach at all or taught only one course, had only one kid, and was completely in charge of my schedule. Now, however, one PhD and one more kid later, I am at a loss when it comes to mental-health time. I run very irregularly, don't have time for yoga at the studio, and am not studious enough to do it on my own (all those downloaded apps notwithstanding), and just plainly can't find enough hours in a day. Add to it a conference (a fantastic one, too) over the weekend, and a stomach flu yesterday, and my entire schedule is running behind by two weeks! And did I mention the eighty papers? (Full-time sessionals, I apologize, but it's my first time teaching two courses, and eighty seems like a lot to me.)

Add to that the most time- and energy-consuming activity of all: being on this difficult job market. I am a very organized person, I swear. A typical virgo. I make lists, and full use of iCal, and Excel sheets, and everything short of programming software myself. But I just cannot seem to keep track of the job apps process, because it seems every school wants something different. I am perpetually behind there, and fall behind in other areas because of the anxiety of missing a deadline to apply for what might be the one and only.

So, I was going to take a mental health day today, in-between the end of classes and having to pick the kids up, but I discovered another deadline next week. Yes. So, do me a favour, and take one for me, so I relax vicariously, would you?

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