Thursday, January 6, 2011

Why is relaxing so hard?

Well, the Singing Pen is back after a much-needed holiday hiatus. 

The end of 2010 found me tired and "toxic" (an adjective from my med school days for burn-out).  I love my job and feel so fortunate to be an academic family physician, but the juggling act of my responsibilities was wearing me down.  I was overdue for a vacation and eagerly looked forward to this one.

I have come to expect that it takes me a minimum of 48 hours into a vacation to truly begin to relax, but I wish it didn't take so long.  I want to be able to turn my work mindset off and on like a switch.  That magic switch would allow me to maximally enjoy my vacations, as I'd be in the right frame of mind from the outset! 

But, no, instead I spend the first couple of days consumed with the restless feeling that I should be doing "something."  Knowing that I need to relax, I force myself to sit with a book or get in the jet-spray bathtub, but somehow I always find myself distracted by something else to do.  The "something else" is always some trivial domestic chore or errand (or, to my wonderfully patient husband's dismay, occasional furniture rearranging).  Gradually, the intervals between distractions lengthen, and I catch myself happily unwilling to "work" on anything at all by day 2 or 3 of the vacation.

I also completely unplug from e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, the blogosphere, etc. for the entire duration of my times away.  It's not that I regard all things electronic as negative and intrusive (quite the opposite, actually!), but they do cost mental energy to interact with.  I don't mind returning to an overflowing e-mail bin, and the benefits of a few days' introspection and rest are completely worth it to me.

I would welcome your thoughts on relaxation and physician wellness.  And, if anyone knows of a "magic switch," please let me know!  :)

My sincerest wishes to you for a healthy and balanced 2011.

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