Thursday, March 1, 2012

Meta-Project, Phase Two: Health

So, after having taken two months to get phase one ("Prepare the Foundation") about 85% finished, it's on to phase two of the meta-project. The theme for this month is "health."

It's way too easy for academics to sacrifice their health. There's always something to do. In very little time, we stop getting exercise, stop cooking, stop doing anything but working. And when work falls apart, it all falls apart, because that's all we've been doing.

I've decided that, for me, it's time to knock it the hell off. I decided that provisionally a while ago, but it really hit home the other day when I was looking at a stack of reading and grading, and thought, "Well, dammit. I'm going to have to skip yoga[1] again -- that'll make it a week and a half now." And suddenly, it hit me: I was making a conscious decision to sacrifice my physical well-being for my job. Worse, I was doing it without thinking, because that had become the natural choice for me.

So, this is the theme for the month of March: I work on making conscious choice for health, in all its forms. Some ideas...

For physical health, I've recommitted to at least three yoga practices a week (I could substitute any serious exercise here, but yoga is the one I like personally). I'm also aware that I eat (and drink) a lot of garbage. Part of this is just making bad choices, so I want to think seriously about how much salt, diet soda, and caffeine I am consuming. Can I make healthier choices, at least 50% of the time? But the other part of the food thing is that I neglect to keep the fridge stocked with healthy things. So, I know what to do there, too.

For mental/spiritual health, I've started daily meditation, first thing in the morning. I'm already several days into it,[2] and I already feel calmer. It's hard to sit there, doing nothing -- not even making a mental to-do list! -- for 15-20 minutes every morning. But when I do, I find that the day goes more smoothly. And I no longer want to throttle people who present me with minor irritations.

Finally, financial health. Annddd.... here's the big news that I promised you in the previous post. Three weeks ago, I paid off my last credit card. Consumer debt had been claiming roughly one-third of my take-home pay for the past 9 years. Finally, it's done. So my financial health goals: start saving. For a house, for retirement, for those occasional extra expenses.

That's the intention for March. I think it's doable.

[1] The fact that it was yoga in particular doesn't matter so much as the fact that it was "that thing that is simultaneously really good for me and that I actually like to do." For you, it may be running, or swimming, or fencing, or whatever. The point is, when I realized that I was actively collaborating in staying away from something that was doing double-duty in making me well, I thought, "well, that's just the last fucking straw, isn't it?"

[2] Though I missed it this morning because there was a glitch with my download... I know: lame excuse.


Janice said...

Good for you on all of those fronts. Getting rid of the spectre of consumer debt is so beneficial for your mental and spiritual health, as well as for the financial relief!

zcat_abroad said...

That sounds like really good thinking! Taking physical care of ourselves does seem to take a back-seat, which in turn affects mental health. And then we can't do our jobs as well... It's way too easy to slip into that cycle.

And congrats on paying off the credit! That's a really big thing!

Dr. S said...

You are seriously, seriously my hero, on all these fronts. Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations!

Melete said...

"It's way too easy for academics to sacrifice their health."

Now there's an understatement. Rather, what's happening is academia destroys its workers' health, especially in the head department.

One of my colleagues, in search of a simpatico therapist, discovered that at least two shrinks in this city specialize in Great Desert University employees. One of them had her practice almost an hour's drive from any of the campuses, and she had so many clients it was difficult to get an appointment.

Good idea to get a grip before one needs professional help.

What Now? said...

Wow -- congratulations all around!