What I do for my mental health
I recently got a question on what I do for my mental health.
In general, I’ve had my share of health issues, in particular the migraines and thyroid problems. Some of the symptoms of thyroid disease are very similar to the physical symptoms of anxiety. I’m generally not anxious, but when my thyroids go party in lalaland, and I experience a racing heart, then I do start to worry about what is going on, which then results in a vicious circle.
Anyway, this long preamble does not answer the question on what I do for my mental health.
I have a number of practices to keep myself balanced, but the number one thing that influences my health (mental and physical) is this: do not work too hard.
When I work long weeks, I don’t sleep enough, drink too much coffee, worry too much about everything that I still need to do, and don’t have enough time to spend on my hobbies. All of that is not good for me. My limit seems to sit somewhere around 65 hours of work in a week – that is a workload I can’t seem to carry. I do best when I work maximum (MAXIMUM) 55 hours in a week. And ideally, I’d scale down to 40 hours. That’s a work in progress.
Besides trying not to overwork, I do the following things that seem to be good for my mental health:
- play music
- try to get enough sleep (and really struggle with this)
- listen to music
- study random things
- go for hikes
- putter around in my little garden or arrange my flowers
What do you do for your mental health?
Thanks for this post. I’ve largely exceeded my working limit between september and november. I thought the Christmas holidays would be enough to allow me to recover. And boy, did it not. I’m still recovering several months later. I’m still working and mothering of course but my pace has slowed down, I’m exhausted, my good mood and my ability to take care of my family are largely impaired. When I was younger, I used to recover better; now I have understood that sleepless nights are to be avoided at all costs and that I have to maintain outside activities to force myself to go out, reality checks with my psychotherapist to make sure I don’t tell myself stories about the importance of submitting such and such a project or aiming for such and such a promotion, and to do some baking and little games with the children so as not to fall into the productivity spiral.
Indeed, academia is greedy and before you know it, it takes a lot from you. I always have to remind myself that my job is just my job, that my selfworth is not tied to my output, and that the pressure I put on myself is something that neoliberalism put in my brain in a sneaky way.