Monday, February 28, 2005

Busy-ness

I've been struggling with some health issues lately that have kept me from being very productive at anything, blogging included. I am doing a bit better now, but am still working through what appear to be some chronic issues.

It's interesting, I've had lots of opportunity lately to tell medical personnel the long litany of things in my life that could be potential sources of stress. It's usually right about the time that I say I'm taking 13 hours of credits at school and doing an internship that's 20 hours a week that they start to comment about how incredibly much that is, and that it's certainly a lot of stress to cope with. That's when I tell them that it's typical -- everyone in their second year at Iliff in the MDiv program is expected to take 13-14 hours and do an internship on top of that. If we don't, we end up having to stay here an extra year.

The truth is, though, that it really is a lot. All of my collegues seem to be stressed to the max. There's been quite a lot of illness at Iliff this term, and no wonder if students are so run down from busy-ness. Iliff, isn't atypical in this, either. I think it's pretty much standard for theological schools, and probably other graduate schools for that matter. But is it healthy?? Not really. Isn't it ironic that at a school where we're trying to learn to be models of healthful living and choices that we are in fact setting up life patterns that are so taxing and unhealthy. I'm not sure what a good solution for the institutional problem is, but for me at least, stepping back a bit is going to be essential.

6 Comments:

Blogger Brian said...

David,

I'm sorry that you haven't been healthly lately. I hope that you're able to reduce some stress in your life.

I think you're absolutely right that it is an institutional problem. Your situation is basically the same situation facing the medical profession. They know that the horrendous hours they work interns results in medical mistakes and a significant human cost, but they can't seem to fix it. I there's an attitude by people who've lived through the system that "if you don't suffer as much as I did, you haven't really earned it." That may be less prevalent in theological schools, but I bet part of it is still there.

I think schools also tend to overestimate the value of their programs. There's always more you can add to the curriculum or the internship - they're just not very good at actually asking themselves how much those things really add to the curriculum.

My masters program was very different. They knew everyone was very busy and so they set embarrassingly low standards for everyone. I don't think that's the solution either, but it certainly made my life pretty easy.

Hang in there!

Brian

5:40 PM  
Blogger St.Phransus said...

It doesn't set a wonderful example of the spiritual practice of sabbath or viewing time as holy. That might be an area that schools of theology might want to consider. Maybe we need more spiritual directors to become academic deans.

cheers,
Jonathon

8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, David-- Mary Ann here. (For those who don't know, I'm at David's school.)

I couldn't agree more. It's excruciatingly much, particularly on the quarter system. Not only are quarters too short to do term papers in, but I've had only two classes in which we had a quarter's-worth of work rather than a semester's-worth, in those short ten weeks.

I might add that I have found being in the adoption process pretty much equivalent to taking another class, so I reckon you have, too.

I'm so glad you're taking care of your valuable self. :)

4:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It’s 11:00 in the morning and your energy is waning. Minutes seem to tick by like hours and your mind feels foggy. You’ve still got six more hours to look alert and act productive and get over test anxiety, so how do you cope with the afternoon blahs? Follow these six tips!

1. If you have a job that involves sitting at a desk all day or staring at a computer screen, take five minutes to stand up or lean back, close your eyes and stretch, especially in your shoulder and leg areas. Being seated all the time can make your whole body feel stiff and sleepy. A good stretch session helps limber up your body and gets the blood flowing again.

2. Avoid the tempting lure of caffeine or sugar-laden foods such as coffee, tea or chocolate. Caffeine may perk up your energy levels temporarily, but it also has a bad habit of leaving you sluggish after the effect has worn off. Instead, choose whole grain foods, fruits and vegetables to give your body the fuel it really wants! Eating healthier will boost your mood, elevate your alertness, change test anxiety and make you feel better all day long.

3. Along with healthier foods, take a quick 10-15 minute walk during your lunch break. Just a few minutes will give you a burst of energy that refreshes you and makes you feel more alert – while burning off your lunch calories in the process!

4. Sometimes, afternoon slumps can be your body’s way of telling you that it needs something. You may be feeling tired if your blood sugar is low (which happens especially after the effect of those caffeine and high sugar foods has worn off!). Packing a low calorie snack like graham crackers, granola, fruit or vegetable slices can give your body a boost and keep you from feeling hungry in the late afternoon and caving in to the urge to devour the entire contents of the vending machine after work!

5. Drowsiness is often a sign that you’re not getting enough water. Drinking more water throughout the day not only helps keep you awake, but also keeps you from feeling those hunger pangs that inevitably creep up in mid-morning. Taking a large sports bottle that you can drink from throughout the day is a great way to get your recommended eight glasses a day as well!

6. If afternoon fatigue is a recurring problem, it may be a side effect of medications you are taking. Allergy pills are well known culprits, as are some blood pressure and anxiety/depression medicines. Don’t try to circumvent these effects with caffeine, otherwise you’ll overload your body with stimulants while it’s already trying to deal with drowsiness, and you’ll feel mentally and physically exhausted. Instead, try a short 15-20 minute catnap. You’ll be surprised how refresh you’ll feel when you wake up! (Don’t try this at work though – I know it’s tempting!)

If you follow these tips on a regular basis, you’ll not only make it through the afternoon blahs, but you’ll also feel better physically and mentally, sleep better at night, and wake up rejuvenated and re-energized the next morning. Make it a GREAT day! test anxiety

6:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone has days when they are down, worn out, canine separation anxiety and just not feeling all that happy.

That's OK, you need to have days like this, otherwise how would you know when you are happy. You need to have something to contrast your happiness with. What is black without white?

Even though you know that sadness (canine separation anxiety) is a part of life, let's try to make it a small part of life.

With that said, here are a few tips to help you feel better when you are feeling down in the dumps. They are easy to do, easy to practice every day and they work!

1. Stand up straight, sit up straight. When your body is in alignment your energy can flow and when your energy is flowing freely, you can flow.

2. Smile! Yes, just smile. Easy to do and effective.

3. Repeat positive affirmations. Things like "I feel good", "Positive energy flows through my body", "I see the good in all".

4. Listen to some music that you like. It doesn't have to be anything specific, just something you enjoy. Certain types of music work better than others, but experiment and see what works for you. Studies have shown that Classical music and new age music work best.

5. Take some time out for yourself, relax and read a book, do something for yourself.

6. Meditate. Meditation is an excellent habit to develop. It will serve you in all that you do. If you are one who has a hard time sitting still, then try some special meditation CDs that coax your brain into the meditative state. Just search for "Meditation music" on Google or Yahoo and explore.

Our outside work is simply a reflection of our inside world. Remember there is no reality just your perception of it. Use this truth to your advantage. Whenever you are sad, realize that it is all in your mind and you do have the power to change your perception.

These tips will lift you up when you are down, but don't just use them when you are sad or canine separation anxiety . Try and practice them everyday, make them a habit. You will be surprised at how these simple exercises will keep the rainy days away.

On a final note, if you are in a deep depression that you can't seem to shake, please go see a doctor. This is your life and don't take any chances. canine separation anxiety

1:35 PM  
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1:41 PM  

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