The last week of September was utterly blissful for me. I finally used some annual leave and spent the week at home. Before September, I had only taken 8 days of annual leave throughout the year (5 days when the other half and I went to Keswick in February and then 3 days when we moved house in March) There had been many times when I’d wanted to take the time, but for so many reasons I ploughed through and worked every single workday. And some weekends, too!
Since my fiancé doesn’t have as much annual leave as I do – and as he has taken some throughout the year already – I was by myself for the entire work-week. I didn’t mind, though, as I am quite a solitary person and I had a lot of tasks that I’d wanted to get through. It was the first time I have spent an extended period of time at home (i.e. longer than a bank holiday weekend) since last Christmas, and the first time ever in our new house.
I’m naturally quite a reflective person, too, so I have been thinking about what I heave learned during my time off. I have split it into two parts: part one about the personal aspect and part two about blogging.
I like going to bed early
I work shifts, so one week I will work 7am-3pm and the following week I will work 1pm-9pm. When I am working the early shift, I know I need to be asleep by 10pm to get a full 8 hours, and when I’m on the late shift I know that magic number is usually midnight. But I rarely go to bed early enough to get the full 8 hours. This week, however, I knew that I could go to bed whenever I wanted and get up whenever I pleased too. I listened to my body – something I don’t tend to do – and I typically went to bed between 10pm and midnight. Some nights, I was too pooped and headed up before 10 but it was rare that I went to sleep after midnight. I definitely felt revitalised in the morning and it was refreshing to listen to my body for once, and to be able to wake up without an alarm clock!
I realised why I go to bed late when I work
In terms of the sleeping aspect, I spent a bit of time thinking about why I wanted to go to bed at 10pm when I didn’t have work the next day. The primary reason, I realised, was because I had the following day to do what I wanted. This led me to think about why I tend to stay up late and procrastinate sleeping when I’m at work: because I want to make the most of my time at home. Which (when I’m on the early shift) contradictorily means going to bed late, feeling tired after work the next day, and then not making the most out of my afternoon/evening.
Listening to my body felt amazing
Aside from listening to my body to determine when to go to sleep and when to wake, I also listened to my body to find out when to eat, when to drink, when to move. While we don’t have set break times at work, everyone always tends to go on break at the same time each day. When I was at home, I only ate when I felt hungry, which would sometimes be hours after my last meal. Being a home also meant I could drink whenever I wanted (due to the nature of my job, I can only drink on breaks) so I felt thoroughly refreshed and energised.
I am a slob
Not going to lie, I was very lazy, with housework and general routines. It was not uncommon for me to go through my day like a snail, leaving a trail of mess everywhere I went until I finally had the umph to clean up after myself. I am usually quite a clean and tidy person, but not during annual leave! I know I should have cared more but I was not ashamed!
I had no routine
I actually kind of missed having the routine of being at work. Although my routine changes depending on what shift I am on, I still have something in place so that I wake up, eat, and get ready. When I get home I relax for a bit, doing my own thing while listening to an audiobook, and then I spend some time with my fiancé, before journalling for the evening and taking myself up to bed. Without that routine, I found myself getting ready (or, rather, being presentable!) after lunchtime and there were some days I didn’t journal at all. If my time off were extended however (as in a month or a few months off work) I definitely would have to establish a routine but it didn’t seem worth it just for the five days.
There is a lot of time in one week
I am definitely one of the people who believes there aren’t enough hours in the day. I spend my time at work counting down until I can get home and do my own thing and then I blink and all of a sudden it’s time for me to go to sleep. I could definitely benefit from having two or three more hours at home per day! However, I didn’t really leave the house during my week off. I visited my family a few times, went to a MacMillan Cancer fundraiser and had a hospital appointment, but other than that, I didn’t leave my home. Which means I was spending probably an average of 22 hours per day in my house.
I did feel a little stir crazy towards the end of the week, but it also made me think about how ineffectively I spend my free time when I’m at work. As I mentioned above, I tend to go to bed late to make the most out of my free time, but that leaves me feeling tired the next day so I can’t make the most out of my time. There were periods when I felt so refreshed during my leave that I was able to get a shocking amount done, which I want to apply to my free time now that I am back at work.
I felt kind of anxious, but also at peace
I have never been diagnosed with any form of anxiety, however I definitely do have feelings of anxiousness in certain situations, such as being around a lot of people. This means that work can take a lot of energy out of me because I am constantly trying to monitor and regulate my feelings so it was an absolute breath of fresh air not having to worry about being around other people. However, I still did feel anxious (though in lesser quantities) when I thought about how ambitious I am as a person and I started worrying about not making the most out of my week off. To ease my anxiety about this, I just had to remind myself of how much I had already accomplished, plus the fact that I have more time off coming up in November to be able to get a lot more personal goals completed.
I don’t know what will make me happy
This was perhaps the biggest realisation for me. I enjoy my job, I really do, but I realised a few weeks/months ago that I don’t love it and I don’t have the passion for it.
Maybe it is the new role I started back in March or maybe it is just that I am not destined to be a one job pony for the rest of my life. The fact that it might be the latter is quite scary to me. When I was younger, I always desired to have a job in which I loved going to bed because it would mean I could get to work sooner. I wanted to be excited by my work. And I was.
For a year.
The job I am in now (I’m a scientist) had a massively steep learning curve and I am so proud of myself for having come as far as I have managed within such a short space of time (I have only been in this job for a little over 2 years) However recently I have been thinking about what I can do to really excite myself and make me happy to go to work. I had some ideas that I kind of tested out during my week off, but unfortunately they didn’t give me the answers I was yearning for.
And that scares the poop out of me.
My number one goal in life is to be happy, and my week off was realisation that I don’t know how to achieve that. I am only twenty-something, so I know I have a long time left to figure out what does make me happy, but for the moment I need to work on how to stand up again after it feels like the rug has just been pulled from underneath my feet.
How do you feel in your job? Do you feel excited to go to work each day, or do you dread it?
What are you like when you have time off work? Are you someone that has to be busy everyday or do you prefer having a free schedule?