The Musings of an Elective Orphan

Sarah Brandis

The stress-life balance?

Today's work station

Today’s work station

This blog is coming to you from my holiday in Australia.  Today my musings are about work-life balance, and the pursuit of calm.  Which I fail at a little bit.

You know that year-long feeling of “I just need to make it to my holiday, then I can relax”.  Well, I have been telling myself that all year, to finally arrive in lovely, sunny Australia… and find that I have forgotten how to relax.  I think it may be to do with allostasis – a term I recently learned about at Uni, in a module about the psychology-physiology connection.  When you live at 100mph as many of us do (who’s with me here?), it is hard to just flick the switch off.  Allostasis can be defined in a slightly intimidating biology teacher/science geek kind of way.  But to write it how I understand it, it basically means maintaining your status quo under constant pressure.  I guess you could call it your stress-life balance.  So when you take the stress away, your life feels a bit disembodied.  It is really a physiology term, but I think this concept applies to the mind as well as the body.  I have been wondering if allostasis is what causes people who work crazy-hard their whole lives to drop dead a few days into retirement.  A sudden change that should be for the better, is just too much of a change for the body (or even the mind) to handle perhaps?  I have heard migraine sufferers report something similar too.  The first day of their holiday often brings the worst migraine attack of the year – I find this really interesting.  Perhaps, just as physical exertion should be built up to gradually, i.e. you don’t just go run a marathon, you train yourself up; perhaps relaxing needs to be eased into also.  More of a changing down of the gears than an emergency stop. 

There is something wrong with this picture...

There is something wrong with this picture…

Maybe a part of me is afraid to slow down too, as going back to London is going to suck.  It’s summer here, everything is colourful and lovely, and the people are friendly.  Back in London everything is cold right now, and grey, and the people are stressed.  Add to that the post-holiday return to working for a living, and the increasing pressure of my dissertation (that I should be working on right now, not blogging!).  But I’m thinking too far ahead.  The danger of not slowing down on holiday is that you might not enjoy it.  And I have a week left of beautiful beaches and wildlife (yep, I’m in denial about the snakes, everything here is lovely and not venomous).  The best thing I could do for myself right now would be to put this laptop away for a bit and try to live in the moment.  Soak up as much Aussie-goodness as I can now while I have the chance.

OK – putting the laptop away in 3,2,1…

These occasionally visit the garden where I am staying.  They are huge!

These occasionally visit the garden where I am staying. They are huge!

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2 comments on “The stress-life balance?

  1. missnervousnellie
    January 13, 2014

    If you are interested in participating, I’ve nominated your wonderful blog for the Liebster Award. Details can be found here: http://missnervousnellie.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/id-like-to-thank-the-academy/

    • sarahbgoode
      January 13, 2014

      This is awesome, thank you SOOO much! I’m terribly jet-lagged today, so I will answer all the questions in the morning, when I will hopefully be a bit more with it. I have a few blogs in mind to nominate too. Very happy 🙂

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