Switching gears, but how?

Four days in. Another thirteen to go. The Christmas holidays always reveal exactly how destroyed you actually are, how much of your energy is still available for life in the holiday season. For pretty much the entire year I run on autopilot. Ironically, even though my work in academia involves intensive use of my brain, I often feel I have no time to think much during the day. The program is always fully scheduled ahead, and I try to maximize my efficiency within these planned office hours. Autopilot.

With the holiday season – and especially now that the kids have been sick – I have not planned out much. That means that there’s margin for some rest, or a quiet moment here or there. I don’t have to run from task to task all the time. Obviously, having two young kids, these moments are just that; moments. They last only a couple of minutes when they happen. But they happen. Something I’ve noticed this week, is that I’m utterly exhausted. Every time I have one of these mindful rest moments, I feel absolutely destroyed. Every day… During work days, I forget that. I simply have no time to be exhausted, and therefore I am not.

These past few days showed me that the past few months have resulted in a lot of built-up tension. My reserves have been depleted. This break may have come right on time. Maybe my small breaks restore some energy, albeit slowly. It also reveals a problem I really have to work on. I need to switch to a lower gear, and reserve my energy expenditure during the rest of the year… I can’t be burning myself out like that all the time. It’s a recipe for disaster.

I need to switch gears.

But how do you find your lower gears if you’re always running in high? What if there aren’t any? What if I’m just broken beyond fixing? I really would like to know. I don’t think it’s healthy to keep running on autopilot like this all the time. I feel a New Year’s resolution coming up, but it hasn’t crystallized yet. Suggestions are welcome!

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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