Recharging when getting away is not an option

sign at swap meet indicating facilities closed till October

“Swap Meet” image cc license from Flickr user LukeJNovak:

I remember when I used to look forward to summer — warmer weather, longer days, no homework, family vacations and time with friends. Even when I started working during the summer breaks, there seemed to still remain ample time to read and relax after work was done in those long months between school terms. Even when I had summer school, it would last only a fraction of the whole holiday period, leaving weeks to relax and recharge.

Now, I look forward to summer for some of the same reasons — the warmer weather and longer days — and some new ones — travel takes a bit less time without the traffic of parents driving children to school and fewer colleagues in the office means a slightly lighter load of internal requests.

Although I miss the family vacations, the biggest loss in the transition from school to work was the chance to decompress and relax that those summer months offered.  That time was fairly sacred and it was unlikely it would be scheduled over or co-opted by classes or meetings; one would dread catching a summer cold that seemed to suck up those valuable days of summer holidays, but never thought about a time in the future when unexpected work events or deadlines would force retraction of vacation days and a premature return to work.

As I cannot take off the several months I dream of to rest and relax during the summer, I’ve been trying to take advantage of the “Five Ways to Recharge During the Summer” recommended by Jamie Corcoran in her June post at Gradhacker.  As someone feeling jealous of those enjoying summer vacations, I might have skipped the post were it not for a very good point she makes during the first paragraph: these five things are ones that help yourself recharge, no matter how much or how little time you have at your disposal; as someone who won’t be able to take any vacation beyond a day here and there until October, I appreciated these ideas of how to make the most of these spare moments and few days at my disposal.

One important piece of advice I would add to Corcoran’s is the following: in order to make any of these ways to recharge worthwhile, you must avoid  feeling guilty for relaxing and taking breaks. The good accomplished by setting aside a few hours to read and relax is easily undone if one spends the following hours agonizing about what other uses could have been made of that time. Schedule in this relaxation time if you must, to ensure that other tasks can still be completed and that responsibilities aren’t neglected. During those moments, minutes, and hours you can set aside for recharging, dedicate yourself to these efforts at relaxation just as you would to your work or studies. For those periods of time, recharging is your primary job.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go follow piece of advice number 1 (“Move”) and go for a walk outside before it starts raining again.


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