Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Giving ourselves permission

There's a lot of stress and anxiety out there among the academic bloggers. Part of it is the time of year. Students begin to realize that no, they're not going to pass and yes, maybe they should have come to class, written that paper in more than a couple of hours, or read that book more thoroughly. Their anxieties get pushed onto the teacher. And there's the grading that absolutely needs to get done, job applications to write, papers to write, presentations to give. There's also the stress of the holidays, visiting relatives we have strained relationships with, the financial strain of buying gifts, the memory of lost loved ones who won't be with us this year.

We need to give ourselves permission to take a break. Bitch, Ph.D. is taking a break from blogging. JMP is stressing about the holidays. New Kid is stressing over procrastination. And EMN points us to a study in Britain that shows an increase in stress levels among academics. Even though I am on the other side of the aisle so to speak, in not teaching, I feel a similar stress. The computer lab increasingly fills with students working on papers and projects. 95% of them have their own computers, but they need the moral support. Their stress and anxiety is palpable. Around campus, I see faculty with that look of not having slept because they were up grading, writing, or reading.

I've decided to give myself permission to take a break. I've been stressing over the fact that I haven't worked on my novel in a while. I keep thinking, "I've got some free time, I should write a few pages." Then I look at it and I just can't. So I'm now officially telling myself that it will be okay not to work on it--to enjoy the holiday season without thinking I need to fill it with work. I'm going to make cookies, shop for gifts, work puzzles and spend time with my children. What can you let go of that will relieve the burden?