March: Beyond the Halfway Point

I haven’t written in a while.  Honestly, I have been so tired – I know that this is the time of year when a lot of teachers hit a slump, and I’m feeling it.  Spring Break starts on Monday, I don’t want to be here, my colleagues don’t want to be here, my students certainly don’t want to be here, and there’s a lot of negativity going around.  And it isn’t necessarily an attitude problem – a lot of people I’m working with have legitimate problems they are trying to deal with outside of their lives as teachers, and when you have a job that intrudes so much on your personal time, it’s really difficult to maintain a balance between job duties and personal duties.

That said, I haven’t given up on my goal for March.  I have made really great strides in some areas, and not so great strides in others.  I had already been flossing every day before this month and got great mouth reviews at my dental appointment last week.  I have been brushing most nights now, too.  I’ve developed a habit of going to bed at 9pm and waking up at 5am, which has been my favorite change this month, even if my body is still adjusting and I’m still generally pretty tired.

Getting up at 5am has resulted in more relaxed mornings and nights for me.  Mornings are more relaxed because I don’t have to rush through my routine of getting ready for work.  I have time to take a shower, read a little bit, eat breakfast, finish up any housework I was too tired to do after work the previous day, and still get out the door by 6:45am (my goal is to leave by 6:30, but 6:45 has been working, too.)  It takes me half an hour to drive to work, and school doesn’t start until 8:20, so I usually have a good hour to an hour and a half to set up, resolve any pressing issues, and settle in before my students arrive for first hour.

And now nights are more relaxed too, because if there’s some emergency that needs to be taken care of for work, or if I’m too tired to complete a household task, I know I’ll have time for it in the morning without being rushed.

One place where I’ve totally failed so far is exercising.  On the third day of the month, I went and signed up for a gym membership.  I have yet to actually go to said gym.  I always find some excuse.  Sometimes I’m too tired (and sometimes, I actually do feel too tired).  Sometimes I don’t have enough time.  It would interfere with the time I wanted to use to do other things.  Et cetera, et cetera.  This next week is Spring Break, which gives me something of a reprieve from all of the stress and exhaustion I’m picking up from work right now.  During this time, I will endeavor to actually go to the gym and get my feet wet.

And finally, my data collection has dragged.  I’m not too concerned about that.  I made this an experiment for motivation purposes, and not much more.  I’m finding that even without data collection, my motivation hasn’t suffered too much, so I’m good on that account.

March: Quitting the Quitting Attitude

I messed up over the past couple of days.  Thursday I didn’t drink enough water.  Friday I couldn’t pull myself out of bed, and when I got home I passed out without flossing or brushing my teeth first.  Today I haven’t eaten breakfast yet and it’s already nearly noon.

Usually this is the situation where I look at my chart, and I say, “Well, of course I could do it on the first day when I felt motivated, but now what’s the point?”  Why is it that small failures make giving up so enticing?  I feel as though since I couldn’t even do it the first couple of days, going on I’m going to feel that there’s no point in even trying.

This is where I need to be kinder to myself.  I’ll keep on trying, and at the end of the week, I’ll treat myself the way I would treat one of my students.  Where are my successes? I’ll ask.  Where do I need work?  If I can’t drink 8 glasses of water per day, maybe I should lower my expectation to four for now and build myself up to it.  But ultimately, the point of this isn’t to succeed or fail, but to become happier, and building these habits despite adversity is a way to, if not happiness, at least some extra energy.

Kicking off March

Hello!  As I often do, I’ve made one more change to my plan.  It’s fairly last minute, but now that I’ve started recording for March, I’ll be keeping the rest of my plan exactly the same.

I’ve changed my dependent variable.  Instead of measuring my lifestyle’s effect on my mood, I’ve decided to measure its effect on my energy level.  The point of this is that I find it easier to gauge my energy levels than my overall mood – sometimes I think I’m perfectly happy, and then BOOM, my whole mood shifts.  Energy is a little easier.  I can usually tell if I’m ready to work or if I’m falling asleep.  Here’s my energy scale:

= I’m likely to fall asleep if given the chance.

2 = I’m not falling asleep, but I don’t feel like doing anything, either.

= I can go about my normal day.  I feel worn out, but not sleepy or lethargic.

= I’m motivated and ready to act.

= I’m not only motivated to act, but eager to do so!

Yesterday (March 1), I registered about a 1 at 8am, a 3 at 1pm, and a 1 at 6pm (I literally did doze off at 6pm).  So, as you can see, I had a very low-energy day today, and that seems like the norm.

Today, since I got 8 hours of sleep and woke up at 5, I would register about a 4 at 8am, and a 3 at 1pm.  It was interesting seeing how energetic I felt in the morning.  One thing I noticed this morning getting up at 5am is that I didn’t feel pressed for time to get ready.  I don’t need to leave for work until 6:30am to arrive in my classroom an hour before the school day begins.

I am a morning person by nature.  After work, I have no motivation to do pretty much anything work-related.  One thing that pleasantly surprised me this morning was that I felt motivated to work once I had showered, and I was incredibly productive because I had a lot of uninterrupted time.  While it’s true I have that time at night, I never want to do anything right before bedtime.  I think this is going to do wonders for my stress caused by work.