Restoring my work-life balance

I took my first day off today, which I gave me conflicted feelings. On one hand, I have felt it was long overdue. I’ve been working like a dog almost non-stop since Institute started in late June, and I’m weary. On the other hand, it was really hard to take the day off, because it makes me feel like a quitter, even though it’s just one day. I have really taken to heart, nominally at least, the mantra that every minute of instructional time is sacred. As hard as I fight to make my class run smoothly, I’ve been more than a little stressed about what would happen without me in the room. And I’ve also taken to heart that if I’m going to hold the kids to the highest expectations that I myself must never give an inch.

I left Baltimore for the first time in over 2 months this week, and made a conscious effort to distance myself from teaching, if only for 36 hours. It gave me the opportunity to really put things in perspective. Really, taking today off was necessary so I could catch up on the work I didn’t do this weekend. But getting up this morning, I had a disturbing realization. I could barely move out of bed, and I was having major difficulty accomplishing even simple chores. It was like my whole body was protesting doing any work. It’s a feeling I know from tough times in the past–depression. I mean, I knew work was depressing me, but the surprise was the inner negativity I felt this weekend in the absence of work. And I know from the past that it’s a path I can’t afford to indulge right now.

Despite all the warnings from past corps members, I have been deluding myself into thinking I’ve been doing myself and my students a favor by compromising the non-negotiables in my life and working around the clock. But I’ve really only been slowly destroying my own mental state. I think part of the reason I have to work so hard is because I’m constantly exhausted mentally and physically, and the marginal productivity of my work is so low.

Stepping back from teaching for the weekend and taking a sick day to recover wasn’t really enough to come close caught up on work or relaxation. But it gave me time to really look at the things I need to fix in my lifestyle. I’m hoping that once I’m mentally healthier, I’ll be happier and more productive. This week should be somewhat therapeutic, since we have professional development days Thursday and Friday.

Go 2-day teaching week!

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