Friday, June 21, 2013

Be Busy, Be Happy


In times of stress, more than ever, it is important to put oneself first.

There’s a saying that the best way to make God laugh is to tell Him your plans.

My summer schedule has now filled considerably, just days after my most recent post, in which I boasted about how “…for the first time in several years, my summer is relatively open. After wrapping up my first year as a college professor, I'm enjoying the lightened summer workload of the education field, teaching just one summer class and tutoring just one day a week.” Last week I was asked to pick up two more summer classes to teach, so my “lightened” summer schedule now consists of teaching four days a week, and tutoring one.

So, adieu, free time. My summer has become considerably busier. But, rather than lament all of the lost days that I was planning to spend on a patio with a good book and a glass of wine, I am welcoming the opportunity to earn more money and continue improving my teaching skills. However, I cannot completely do away with my plans for relaxation and personal enjoyment.
Yet a week ago I was seriously struggling with this surprise, especially as I rushed to prepare for and adjust to this new change in plans. In an attempt to maintain a European aplomb, I made it a priority not to abandon my French woman principles (or at least, the French woman as I imagine her) as I dealt with this sudden adjustment. It was important for me not to neglect the most important element through all of this adjustment period: myself!

In times of stress, more than ever, it’s important to put oneself first. After all, if you’re not keeping yourself happy, how are you expected to be able to handle all of your responsibilities with grace, composure, and enjoyment? Here are five ways in which I tried to make my tremendously busy week a bit more enjoyable.
  1. Eat something delicious. Normally, my go-to snack or meal substitution is a granola bar. Boring, simple, quick, and not particularly delicious. But one day this week as I hopped in my car to head back to campus to teach an evening class, I decided that I deserved better! So I stopped for a fluffy croissant to eat with my coffee. Ideally, I would have sat down and rested while I savored my favorite pastry, but I just didn’t have time for that. However, it was still a welcome treat, even if I had to eat it while driving. I felt much more cheerful through the evening because I got to eat something enjoyable for a change, rather than my boring old granola bars.
  2. Get plenty of sleep. My first class of the day starts at 9 a.m., and my last class of the day ends at 9:40 p.m. So, somewhere between those times, I am expected to get enough sleep to keep me feeling refreshed and ready to go. Really, now. Clearly that’s not going to happen. I compensated for this horrible intrusion into my sleep schedule by coming home and taking an hour nap during the afternoons, in the style of the Spanish siesta. It’s nice to be able to turn off my brain for a bit and regroup before I begin the second half of my long, long day.
  3. Wear something comfortable and stylish. I’ve already posted about how wardrobe planning can be a huge way to reduce stress and save time. Also, that white maxi skirt that I bought recently was an added help—it was long, breezy, and comfortable, and matched with nearly any top. It was a quick, stylish outfit to throw on this week (and didn’t require leg-shaving… an added time-saving bonus!).
  4. Use fancy lotions. Some generous soul put a bottle of aroma-therapeutic hand lotion by the sink in the faculty restroom at work. Normally I use either nourishing or fruity lotions at home, so this was a nice little change to try. I found the unusual scent (possibly Verbena?) to be refreshing and calming when I moisturized my hands before class. Perhaps I’ll pick up my own aromatherapy lotion to keep in my purse in case I need a quick, scented pick-me-up during my day.
  5. Drink lots of water. When I’m busy, it’s sometimes hard for me to make time to eat or drink anything other than coffee. However, staying hydrated is important for one’s overall health and especially one's skin! So I tried to keep reminding myself to drink plenty of water. Water is also a great way to boost one’s energy levels, as even mild dehydration can make one feel tired and sluggish. Rather than just guzzling down glasses or bottles of water, I tried to make the occasion a more enjoyable experience by sipping a glass of mineral water during my downtime in the afternoon. Mineral water is a taste that I acquired while travelling abroad, and anytime I have a glass I am instantly reminded of afternoon stops at European cafes for a glass of mineral water and refreshment.
Taking time to treat myself during this past week made my busy days much more enjoyable, and it helped me to get through an otherwise stressful time with composure and good cheer. Living a stylish or beautiful life isn’t something that’s reserved only for free time or vacation, it’s something to be cultured and enjoyed at every moment—regardless of one’s day-to-day schedule! Remember to fill each and every day with the little things that make you happy, even if it’s something as simple as the occasional croissant on your drive to work.
The above picture was taken by me in 2010 in Bamberg, Germany. I just love the street cafes and outdoor restaurants casually spread throughout the city.

1 comment:

  1. This has been one of those weeks, so this is exactly what I needed to hear. Good tips!
    Congrats on all of your extra classes!