I've really been struggling these last couple of weeks with staying on task with schoolwork, keeping my energy up, and limiting my spending. I go through phases like this occasionally, where I end up thinking a lot about the things I like doing and things that make me feel the best about myself, but I don't actually do any of them. It's not how I see myself, and so it's very weird and depressing. I tend to blame it on school (it has been a rough quarter with an extra heavy workload of not-particularly-interesting classes), but that's probably just a cop-out. I have pretty high expectations for myself, and when I don't meet them I get down on myself. Does anyone else have this problem?
First, spending. I did so well all summer with not buying coffee or anything, but now I am buying it two or three times a week, which is mostly just a waste of money. This fall, I've been the one who says, almost on a weekly basis, "Why don't we just go out for dinner?" We're not exactly flush with money, and while Matt reminds me that our spending habits are so much healthier than the average American's, I still feel guilty. I am ok with occasionally eating out, but I prefer to do it as a treat, not because I'm feeling exhausted or stir-crazy. Those are situations in which actually putting in some effort to cook a nice meal will make me feel better, but I go for the easy out. And most of the time we have leftovers in the fridge, so I can't even say "there's nothing to eat."
I haven't been doing my best at work, wasting a lot of time and getting behind on my duties. I am putting off schoolwork until the very last minute, and then freaking out about it. I am getting very little exercise and eating a lot of candy (thanks, Halloween), which is rather hypocritical for a public health student whose focus is on promoting physical activity and good nutrition. I'm just finding it really hard to turn these habits around right now. Maybe it's because I was so busy all summer that I didn't properly catch up with myself before school started, and that has been dragging me down all term. Maybe it's the change to fall weather and short, dark days, getting home after dark and no gardening to do. Maybe it's this silly feeling that I'm getting old and it will be awhile yet before kids or a farm come into my life (note to self: you're 28. You have all the time in the world. 30 is the new 20). Maybe it's the fact that 2012 has just been a generally tough year, full of living paycheck to paycheck, working through difficult relationship stuff, loved ones in and out of the hospital, and otherwise generally stressful. Lots of bright spots (so many friends got married!), but exhausting.
I find that I can tell myself over and over, "I will fix this. Tonight I'll do some knitting/cleaning/cooking/reading instead of crawling into bed and wasting an hour on YouTube." And then I get home and crawl into bed and waste an hour on YouTube. I nag Matt repeatedly to do certain chores, without ever actually giving him time to do them. That's not who I want to be, but it's who I am being right now. Ugh.
I know I can't expect myself to snap out of it all at once. But here's what I'm going to try and focus on for now:
- Getting more exercise. We've been managing a short hike each weekend, which is helping, but during the week I'm sitting so much of the time, and it makes me feel gross and lethargic. This week I've been walking to work, which gives me 15-20 minutes of exercise rather than the 5 minutes I get when I ride my bike. I'm going to try and keep that up, to walk to work every day. I'm trying to stand more, but it's not always an option. I'm going to try and bike from to school once a week, rather than taking the bus, but it's a pretty long ride so I'm going to try to not be hard on myself if I don't do it.
- Not buying coffee or going out for food. I need to start bringing a thermos of tea with me to school. There's no reason not to. I can fill it in the morning or at work, and then hopefully I won't be so tempted to pay $3 or $4 for coffee or chai at school when I feel the need for comfort, otherwise known as a hot drink. And I'll ask Matt to hold me to the not-eating-out plan, and remind me that by actually cooking something we will both feel so much better and will be saving a lot of money too.
- Buckling down on schoolwork. I have been putting off getting started on a couple of final projects that have me a little bit intimidated. I know from experience that just getting started makes the biggest difference, so if in the next couple of days I can read a few articles and write a few paragraphs, that will get me well on my way.
There are only three more weeks of this term of school, and in spite of how hard this quarter has been, I am really looking forward to the next one. I start my Field Experience in January, finally working in the health promotion field and satisfying one of the final requirements for graduation from my program. I'll also be taking elective classes, so they'll be fun ones that I'm really interested in.
We'll be getting out of town soon, too, which I think will help me work out some of my stir-crazies. We're going up to Medical Lake, Washington (near Spokane) for Thanksgiving, to spend it at my brother and sister-in-law's newly purchased turn-of-the-century farmhouse. I haven't seen it yet, apart from pictures, and I am really excited.
I do feel better having written all of this down, and I appreciate your reading it, if you made it through :)
We'll be back to regularly scheduled food/chicken/rabbit-related programming next time.