Last weekend, my teacher friend said to me, “Days off are more trouble than they’re worth. By the time you prepare all of your lessons for that day, you might as well show up and teach them.”
Yesterday, my colleague said to me, “Don’t let yourself get run down. If you need a day off, take it.”
Both of these things are true.
Some of my readers already know that I have a chronic medical condition. I’d rather not say what, since I haven’t decided how open to be about it at work – but the politics of invisible disabilities is a rant for another day. In practice, most days I function perfectly well. Where it gets tricky is when you pile other things on top of it – like a cold, or sleep deprivation, or stress. These things sometimes hit me harder than they would a perfectly healthy person, and I don’t bounce back quite as quickly.
Strategy one for dealing with these circumstances is, basically, to suck it up. Being independent, holding down a job and honouring commitments I’ve made all require me to sometimes drag myself through the day even when I’m feeling crappy. You may recognise this as a condition shared by 99.9% of the human race, so at least I’m in good company!
Strategy two involves looking after myself. Some people can spend their early twenties eating whatever they want and pulling all-nighters without any negative consequences. I’m not one of those people. I don’t do anything special, and god knows I could exercise more, but I have to invest a certain level of self-care into my body if I want it to be working when I need it.
The real trick, I’m finding, is pinpointing the line between strategy one and strategy two. Whenever I’m pushing myself to work through it, I have to ask myself if I’m looking after myself enough.But I also have to recognise that sometimes I want to sleep in, eat pasta and lie around the house when I would be much better off just getting off my posterior and getting things done.
So today I took a day off. Was it a pain putting together lessons for the substitute? Yes. Did I enjoy my sleep in this morning? For sure. Was it the right choice? I don’t know. I’ll be back at school tomorrow, anyway.