I write this several thousand miles away, in Guangzhou, China. This is close to the end of my trip back to my parent’s hometown—I leave in about a day and a half. There are a ton of takeaways each time I fly back from China. However, there’s a new one this year: slow down.
The two weeks prior to this trip, I got my first taste of the new schedule for this school season. Wake up absurdly early, work out, teach, write sub plans, teach some more, go to other work (or class!), eat, sleep. It was a constant state of go.
I didn’t realize how over-exerted I was until I went on this trip. There was no such thing as jet lag for me, despite the 12-hour time difference, because I slept every single possible moment I could. Whether it was in a car, high-speed train, subway system, or just downtime between events, I was sleeping.
I know there are other graduate students around the Grove who are living in that constant state of go. With the beginning of the fall semester in full swing, many of us are wearing more than one hat, with several responsibilities in addition to being students. While it can be incredibly satisfying at the moment to be productive and living in the constant adrenaline rush, the crash is inevitable and exhausting. Once that happens, it’s really hard to get back into the routine.
It’s unrealistic to waltz back to the states and quit one of my jobs or suddenly take a leave of absence from school. Luckily, my time in China has provided a unique trick: Take lunchtime at lunchtime. I know I tend to work through my lunch period. In China, most schools and workplaces give two-hour lunch breaks, with the intention to give students and employees enough time to stop working, go out, grab a bite to eat, and even go home and take a quick nap. While I know many of us cannot take a two-hour lunch break, why not actually take that break? The half-hour or hour that’s given us to relax and slow down isn’t something we should feel guilty for taking. Just that short burst of time to let our minds wander and bodies unhinge can do wonders.
I leave you and my first post with a poster (no pun intended) I found during a short trip to Guilin. Though the English translation may not be entirely accurate, I found it very powerful.