BH and I had a lovely holiday back in Beautiful Home State at my folks' place. There was lots of snow and subsequent winter wonderment...and 11 people in my parents' tiny abode.
Which made it somewhat less than restful.
So we arrived back "home" to BigCity sometime between the 29th and 30th and celebrated the inauguration of 2009 with some very silly friends (the best kind to have), and have spent the last few days tidying up the house, washing DangerDog's bed (Thing1 & Thing2 peed on it again while we were away...little devil-spawn!), and planning my vegetable garden for the next year.
Tomorrow I will have my car serviced and my bike tuned up and maybe we will go to the zoo.
This period of decompression and tying up loose ends is sooooo necessary in order to start the new year in a good frame of mind. And I feel like I'm almost ready.
Except that every time I think about going back to the lab I experience this strange wave of anxiety.
Not over any particular thing. I know what needs to be done, which deadlines are approaching, and how to get it all done. None of it is even particularly overwhelming, which is why it's weird to feel this generalized anxiety about it. I very much recognize this feeling. It is the sensation that I operate under for most of the year. Only after having sufficient time to get rid of it can I recognize it's sudden recurrence. I suspect that the cause is a combination of the self-inflicted (and external) pressures of grad school in general, the worry over the job market (or post-doc market) that I hope to be entering sometime this year, and the fact that I just haven't been taking very good care of myself.
As I said, nothing I have to do is all that overwhelming. I know this. And I know that chronic stress and anxiety are broadly unhealthy.
My New Year's Resolution is to do something about this. I am very fortunate in that I am not dealing with a physiological chemical imbalance in my brain over which I have no control and for that I am extremely grateful. I do have a large degree of control over the situations that I put myself in and how I react to them. I have control over my behavior, and I can use that control to moderate the stress and anxiety that I feel with respect to my work. [In case you haven't guessed, I am a control freak, which very likely contributes to my chronic stress because I cannot control all the crazy that I work with.] To that end, here is my plan to deal with this. I would greatly appreciate any ass-kicking when needed to get my butt to stick to this.
- I will get up (not just wake up) by 6:30am on weekdays. That way I can get my brain in gear before arriving in the lab, so that I will be more productive while I am there, and less self-critical as a result.
- I will take DangerDog for a run 5-6 mornings per week. I am not by nature a morning person (see above), but I feel a lot better once I've got my blood pumping in the AM. And FSM knows we could both use the exercise.*
- I will lose the weight that I've gained since my running habit was side-lined by shin-splints. I'm not going to tell you how much because it is embarrassing. I feel like crap when I'm this heavy because I am slow (both mentally and physically) and out-of-breath far more often than I ought to be and my clothes don't fit comfortably. Blerg.
- I will floss daily.
- I will re-initiate my yoga practice...preferably right after my morning runs but we'll see how that goes with my current abysmal level of fitness. Might be running AM/yoga PM for a while.
- I will walk or bike to work unless it is really inclement weather.**
- I will take my vitamins.
- I will join the gym in February and swim and/or weight train at least 3 days/week.
- I will judiciouly use my time in the lab on weekdays to minimize the need/pressure to come in on weekends, so that I can have those two precious days with BH and pets to decompress. This means, blocking out my time each morning to get experiments done efficiently, and preparing write-ups as well as the next day's protocols/reagents before going home each day.
- I will drink at least 2 liters of H2O every day.
In more exciting news, I think that I have a tentative post-doc prospect that I am really excited about (yay!). Tentative because it is somewhat dependent on where this person will be when I graduate. But for now things look pretty promising and that's all I'm going to say until decisions have been made about this person's location and whether or not I will be there too. It's strong motivation to wrap up less exciting things with my dissertation work and just get the hell outta there though!
*And then of course, due to the extreme lactic acid buildup in my quads from running a grand total of [gasp!] 4 MILES over the last two days, I hobbled down the stairs this morning and rolled my ankle. It is painful, but I am walking on it. Hopefully, I'll be running on it again tomorrow.
**BH has been very graciously chaufferring me to and from the lab for the last few months...which has been such a luxury. But I need the exercise more than the pampering and he does that so well in so many other ways, that I think it's time to give up the dream of having a personal driver.