Taking the weekend off

When I was in college, I remember sitting in church and listening to a sermon where we were exhorted to take Sunday (or any other day of the week) and not do any schoolwork, nothing, and instead devode the day to prayer and worship.  I almost burst out laughing--not so much because I couldn't imagine spending an entire day focused on religious activities (and I was much more religious then than I am now), but because I couldn't imagine a 24-hour period in which I didn't do any studying or homework.

I've always sucked at taking time off.  When I was in 8th grade, I skipped most of my brother's high school graduation party to study.  In fact, I brought books to the graduation itself.  In high school, I studied for exams on Christmas (the exams were about a month later).  I rarely went out on the weekends in college because, again, studies came first.  Clearly, I have issues.

But the past few weeks, I've been basically banging my head against the wall at work. I've been sending out story ideas, only to be rejected over and over and over.  I know it's not personal, but it is rather discouraging and frustrating as hell. Since I was sleeping more, it seemed that all I did was eat, work, and sleep.  I think much of my fatigue was old-fashioned burnout.  Don't get me wrong- I still love what I do.  On Friday, though, I had simply had it. {{I did get two smaller stories on Friday afternoon, so all is well on that front.}}

No, my weekend wasn't quite that serene.
So I took the weekend off.  Okay, I did a little work.  But just a few hours, probably half on my Psychology Today blog (a new post will appear tomorrow morning or whenever I hear back from the author of a study) and half on the FEAST Conference Planning.  Other than that, I hung out with J, watched TV, crocheted, and read (At Home by Bill Bryson, if you're curious).  It was unusual.  It was also nice.  I was far more apprehensive of how my little prefrontal cortex would handle the change than I was about actually taking time off.

Yeah, I paid for it a bit today.  But I also had a vacation, and I really needed that.  I'm trying to remind myself that the break has made me much more productive than I might otherwise have been today, and that extra boost of productivity will extend through the week.  It's a total shift from my usual MO.  Before, when I've taken time off, it's been because I was either too sick or too depressed to give a crap about not getting anything else done.  Although I've had at least one "vacation" this year, it was to AED last month, and there wasn't much down time.

I know I need to be more vigilant about separating my work life from everything else.  It's too easy to let work bleed into other times.  Sometimes it's simply necessary (when I have a deadline or need to do an evening interview because of time zone differences), but it's still an area where I need to get better at.


Jen said...


hm said...

BRAVO, Carrie Arnold!!!

And you are darling for letting your perfectionist shine through in that last paragraph- where, in spite of a successful weekend of relaxation and benefits in productivity already seen this week, you state that you "need to get better." You even beat yourself up for not relaxing well enough... after a weekend of... relaxing.

Is it wrong that it makes me grin? You are adorable and I love you. So glad you got some down time in.

kayleigh.madison said...

I completely understand how you feel! I cannot tell you how many things I've missed because I was studying. Although I do not regret it now (because it has gotten me to where I currently am), I am learning that breaks might be the best thing ever created!

Keep up the great work (no pun intended!).

Deborah said...

That sounds great! How did you pay for it today though? Did you really? I often find time off helps my brain to work better. Things I've been agonizing over become simple. I think breaks are good for you on so many more levels than just resting.

Anonymous said...

I took last weekend off too. It felt great. Sometimes prickly and uncomfortable but I know I needed it. I actually laid in bed and just lazed one of the mornings. Totally weird.

Glad you are taking the time for you. No better gift.

Cammy said...

Days off are important! When I got in from a long road trip last week, I did essentially no work for the first two days I was home, even though I had plenty to catch up on. The result was that by the third day I was ITCHING to be productive and tackle projects. Starting to write or research or whatever you're doing with the energy and enthusiasm that come from being well-rested definitely makes it more pleasant and often leads to a better product! Really glad you took a couple of days off, you work very hard and definitely deserve some time to just enjoy a weekend.

Beyond This said...

I know how you feel. I often feel totally overwhelmed by my compulsion to be busy and productive at all times, and feel incredibly guilty when I'm doing something that isn't goal-directed in some way. Recently, its occurred to me that my ED may be my way of escaping from this pattern of 'do, do, do'. when you're fragile, thin and vulberable you suddenly have an 'excuse' to rest and take time out - people expect less of you and you no longer have the energy to push yourself so hard. Personally, I thinnk that learning to take time out because I feel like it (rather than 'because its part of the recovery process' or 'because I'm too ill to do anything) is going to be very important for me.

Anonymous said...

yay!! i struggle with this too, and it is so hard to understand that resting IS productive! But it for sure is :)

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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