Recovery mode

It’s been a rough week.  There was an important deadline at school, and then I had to present some results (results? what results? ha!) to my research advisor and some other folks.  I didn’t hit quite the same level of total freak-out that I have with deadlines in the past, but let’s be honest – that’s not a very high bar.  Instead, I just felt like I had a constant live wire of tension running through my body.  All I wanted was to snip the wire and relax, but I couldn’t.

Since school had to take priority, the house is a mess.  A real, there-is-so-much-cat-hair-on-this-rug-that-it’s-driving-me-nuts mess, not a “my house isn’t quite up to Martha Stewart levels” mess.  Worse, I feel as though I haven’t been able to give my son the attention he deserves.  His father has invented some adorable baby games this week, and I haven’t had the energy.

When a perpetual undercurrent of anxiety finally disappears, it leaves behind not elation but exhaustion.  So this morning, with all the deadlines past, all I really wanted to do was sleep.  When Little Boy went down for his nap, I gave myself permission to do the same.  I could’ve used the time to do some of those things I’d had to put off (like vacuuming), but I chose not to, knowing that I needed to go into “recovery mode” before I crashed.

If you’re not me, this might seem like a no-brainer, a completely obvious decision.  Why should you have to rationalize taking a break?  It’s tricky for me, however, because I can get stuck in recovery mode.  It’s all too easy for the lure of sleep or mindless web browsing to take over, and it becomes both a symptom and cause of depression.  I wind up lacking the energy to do anything, while deeply unhappy that I’m accomplishing nothing.

It’s a fine edge to balance – recharging time is necessary, but how much is too much?  I’ve noticed that having hobbies helps; if I actually do something I enjoy, rather than just lazing around, I am happier.

Of course, sometimes you just need a nap.  Or at the very least an extended period of pseudo-meditation, which is what happens when I lay down but don’t fall all the way to sleep. This morning’s decision was the right one: afterward, I felt refreshed and more prepared to tackle the rest of the day.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for what will hopefully be a good night’s rest.