AKA What I want to do differently in Session 2.
I did reasonably well, finishing with a Distinction in both subjects. But I don’t feel like I did a good job of balance. I think I did pretty well with juggling family life and uni, but I don’t feel like I did a good job of looking after myself while juggling family life and uni. I feel like I’m out of sync with myself. I am bored out of my brain on uni break – which started early for me as I completed my course work and handed my assignments in early.
I really let my exercise habits slide to the point when it’s all to hard, I’ve lost so much fitness, and I don’t even want to do those things anymore. It’s ok to change interests – I don’t have to be a runner forever – but I can’t just become sedentary. It’s not good for my mental health. Exercise also helps your brain work better for studying and the like. So I need to prioritise exercise, even if all I can manage that day is a walk around the block. But I also have to make sure that a walk around the block doesn’t become the norm for my level of exertion.
I seem to have some fluctuations of mood that are cyclical but I haven’t kept a close track of them to be able to predict them. If I can predict when my mood is likely to be low, I can plan quieter days for that time, and more exercise and sunshine in the lead up, to try to head it off. To that effect, I have downloaded a mood tracking app so that I can see if there are any patterns emerging. The cool thing about the app I’m using (Daylio) is that I can also input the activities I’ve been doing, so I can correlate if lower moods are connected to periods of inactivity. I already know that my mood is adversely impacted by a lack of sunshine, and can suffer from something resembling Seasonal Affective Disorder by the end of winter. I am not a doctor, and I don’t think the severity of my symptoms (or lack thereof) is enough to warrant a SAD diagnosis, but I know from looking at my mental health history over the last two and a bit decades, that I tend to feel lethargic and depressed around August most years. And I know exercise has an impact on my moods, but I’m not sure about other things. So I’m tracking.
Rest and Recreation
Before Uni started I was determined to take a “day off” once a fortnight to pursue hobbies, go on longer hikes, get some rest… I took a day off ONCE all session. Yes it meant that I finished early, but by the end of it I was OVER it (and it shows in my final assignment submission). Even though taking time off will drag the work out a little longer, I know that research proves that regular rest and recreation (both in short breaks each day and day long breaks every week or two, and longer breaks a few times a year) breaks help you work better for longer. So I’m hoping it will pay off.
While not officially, clinically diagnosed, I identify as an adult with ADHD. (My psychologist, my GP, my mother and my husband all agree with this diagnosis. My GP says the only point in seeking an official diagnosis at this point was if I needed medication.) One of the ways this manifests in me is that I want to do ALL THE THINGS. I want to read every great sounding book I hear about. So I reserve it from the library. The my reserves all come in at once and I feel overwhelmed by the prospect of reading all these books before they are due back so I get paralysed and the joy of reading them isn’t there anymore. Or I get bored, commit to a whole pile of things, get overwhelmed because I’ve committed to too much, then I get bored so I take on a pile of projects but take on too much and get overwhelmed and… the cycle continues. So, this week I have unsubscribed from nearly every mass mail out email that I can. I’ve reviewed my Facebook likes (pages, celebrities, books, movies etc) and cut it down by 40% from 700 to 450, and unfollowed a pile of pages I still chose to “like”. I’ve unfollowed people on Facebook and/or changed them to acquaintances. I will sit down today and review my Twitter feed also. The less I am bombarded with, the fewer “cool things” I can be tempted to do, read, cook, get involved with, and the lower the chance of getting overwhelmed.
In session one, I would set myself goals of getting a certain module, or sub-module completed that day. The trouble is, the length of the modules, and the time taken to complete them was entirely unpredictable. Sometimes I could knock over an entire module in an hour or two. Sometimes completing a single reading for a module would take an hour. So, in the coming session, I am going to set myself a time goal each day, rather than a “complete this” goal. So an hour, or two, or three on this assignment, or this subject or whatever. Rather than aiming for a module complete and realising it’s waaaaay longer than the three before it, and it’s going to mean breaking my plans for the evening so I can GET IT DONE. That’s not healthy, long term.
Also, I do still want to get ahead. I have five children, three with disabilities. Life can be unpredictable at times. Emergencies happen. I want to have some “wiggle room” so that I can take a few days or a week off, and not have to be anxious because I am behind on my work. I *should* be able to achieve this if I can get started on the course work when the subject outlines are released two weeks before session starts. The release of the module content doesn’t always happen straight away so I will have to play that one by ear. The first two weeks of this session coincide with the school holidays so it will be challenging to stay on top of work during that period but I will do my best.
I cannot expect perfection. I know that some fortnights will be crazy and I won’t get my day off. I know someone will get sick. We might have a wet week with no sunshine. Life will not go to plan. But I will do my best. That’s all I can expect.