I don’t take enough breaks – and I really should.
There’s pressure all the time to get things done – but during the working day I rarely take a moment to stop and make a drink – let alone step away from my desk.
Even if I do step away from my keyboard I rarely take my full time allowed.
I know I’m not alone in pandemic life in this respect – and from what I read online my total average hours worked per week aren’t all that bad.
The problem I think is particularly acute when you work in isolation.
When it’s just me banging away in the office all on my own (with no-one else to talk to) I always end up feeling that I might as well just carry on regardless – and by doing so potentially save myself some work tomorrow.
The truth is though that the next day just brings another, bigger raft of things to do – which ultimately means that I’ve still got too much on my plate – but to add insult to injury the following day I’m also just a little bit more tired than I was the day before.
I hate looking at things building up though – and this feeling is even more acute when my work stack (being slightly specialised) is only going to be looked at by me and I know that the only person that will end up having to do it is me.
I do get told off for this though.
Both my manager and my partner are constantly at pains to remind me that I must practice ‘self care’ and not keep doing this.
On the one side it’s nice to be told by your boss that you’re effectively working too hard (the alternative would make me feel awful) and nice to know that my partner respects my work ethic and willingness to do things right – but they do end up pointedly telling me to not work through without stopping.
My manager has recently made me schedule down time in my calendar (which is a very busy place) and mandated that I use these slots for their intended purpose.
I keep telling him (and my other half) that I’ll be a good boy but I always seem to find something that seems really really important and end up doing the absolute opposite of what I promised.
I know it’s partially a problem of my own making – but even this self awareness still fails to make me change my behaviour.
Oddly however I’m the first person to tell other people that they should look after themselves.
I’m continually to be found tutting at the hours my partner works as a teacher (which are waaaaaay longer than mine and seem to be endless at times) and telling her that I don’t know how she does it.
Teachers have brutal schedules and time expectations heaped upon them every day of the week and it’s just not fair. To expect them to continually do 11-12 hour days is simply not sustainable – especially when you hear the negative commentary they get in the media.
Somehow it’s always teachers and their unions that are at fault for a slow return to normality, not the government’s complete lack of any education focused vaccination programme to enable this.
I doubt I’d be quite so angry about it if I didn’t see the reality of what this means for teachers in their home life and the emotional impact that it has when you they are so often forced to make a choice between doing their jobs well and spending time with family and friends.
It’s no surprise that teachers with children often have the motto ‘no child left behind – except your own.’
I’m always in awe of how much effort my partner and her colleagues selflessly put in. I just wish I could make it better in some way other than cooking dinner – but I guess I can’t.
Only the teaching profession as a whole can do that – and they it doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon – along with many other overworked and under-appreciated public sectors.
It’s always easier to try and fix other people’s problems than it is your own though – and when you’re doing so it’s a way of neatly avoiding your own behaviour patterns.
When I’m speaking to my partner (and telling her to practice self care) I’m often acutely aware of the obvious contradiction (and hypocrisy) of the the words I’m spouting – since they aren’t matching up with my own actions.
I can’t really say ‘you should be having a lunch and a break’ if I’m not willing to do it myself.
Maybe I should just lead by example – and to that end I’m going to try and get better.
Working through my breaks and eating my lunch at my desk doesn’t seem to have had any impact on the volumes of things I need to do – so I might as well have a proper rest and feel less stressed.
At least that’s the theory.
I doubt anything will stop me waking up at 3am and thinking (or worrying) about it all until I fall asleep again just before my alarm goes off.
It’s just who I am.
Anyway, if nothing else the weather has marginally improved – and with it my calf muscle appears to be getting stronger – which makes me really really happy.
Now the days are getting longer again I really want to start improving my fitness and pension off my car once more.
After a week or so of parking up half way to work and walking (well – hobbling) the rest of the way in I’m now gradually increasing my distance capabilities once again and am back up to walking about mile without it feeling like it’s pulling or hurting.
I’m a long way away from the fitness levels I used to have – and my Apple Watch annoyingly highlights this when my pulse begins to race on hills. It got up to 139 while walking up a hill last week – and previously I’d have had to run up Snowdon to make that happen.
However – I have to be pragmatic.
Looking back on older blogs there was a time when it took me over an hour to complete a mile – and currently I’m doing it in around 19 minutes.
I’m trying to not think about the distance I have to go – and more about the enjoyment of the journey to get there.
It’s also been an interesting week regarding my blog, because despite the decreased frequency (and some may say interesting content) of my posts there are still some odd people out there reading my thoughts – and in some cases they appear to be benefiting from it more than most.
I found out today that someone that has recently recovered from Covid 19 may have had a better outcome than she otherwise would have if she hadn’t followed a healthier lifestyle prompted by reading my blog a few years ago.
Also someone that I care about (after reading some thinly veiled comments in my post) has decided that having the vaccination is a good idea.
That makes sharing my thoughts (both good and bad) something that’s positive and worthwhile.
It also seems that as far away as Indonesia I have regular (and very welcome) regular readers that wonder where I am – and if I’m OK – when the posts tail off.
In my own isolation and withdrawal I often forget that simply by sharing moments of frailty and feelings of pain, discomfort, isolation and even fear we can prompt hope in others.
The continued effect of this is that the feelings of hope (and kindness) are reflected back, and for every word I write there always seem to be someone that reacts with positivity and love.
As hard as this last year has been for all of us – and as alone as we’ve all felt at times the truth of it is that whilst we may be physically apart there are human bonds that bind us all together all the time.
Even if you’re locked in and bingeing on Netflix (whether you recognise it or not) you’re looking for human contact. You’re watching people going through either fictional or real lives in lieu of being able to engage with them yourselves.
We’re all deferring feelings and pain relating to a lack of human contact until a later date – but they’re still there – and they need to be resolved somehow.
One day we’ll be able to – and I for one want to be fit enough again to walk into town for a coffee with friends and family – before grabbing a baked potato and sitting in the park holding hands with my partner and watching children play.
I can’t help feeling when I write this that I’m re-emerging – and with that in mind I might as well share a recent picture.
I think for quite a while (whilst I was beginning to lose weight in 2016) I struggled with this kind of thing – because I had a very complex relationship with my self image.
Well – actually there was no complexity about it. I truly hated myself.
Then – my image was everywhere and I became proud of how I looked and how far I’d come.
I’ve noticed recently a lot of those old negative feelings creeping back in over lockdown. As my weight management has faltered and I’ve struggled emotionally I’ve found myself withdrawing quite a bit – and that really needs to end.
Once again I’ve found my inner monologue telling myself that I can’t possibly see people again because they will be disappointed in me – or look down upon me because of my ‘failures’.
What I conveniently forget however is that I’d never do that to them, and they’re unlikely to do it to me.
So – here I am.
I’m a bit cuddlier, just as flawed as I ever was, and a looking bit pensive about being out and about.
Whilst I don’t really want to start down the long long road of getting healthy again completely in the public eye I can’t ignore the fact that when I do share things about my ‘journey’ (I still hate the J word!) it helps not just me but others too.
So – in the spirit of that here I am.