5. Well/Being? – Depleted

Depleted reserves
If you’re being productive, if you’re generating good results or whatever, whatever they might be, if they’re seen as positive, productive, useful things, people aren’t really going to question it because you’re not doing something that’s bad but those productive things might come out of what are actually quite negative patterns and behaviours so I don’t think it’s a good thing long term.  I now find myself at a point where actually where a couple of people have said look, actually I think you might be sort of at risk of a bit of burnout and actually I’d be inclined to agree, so now’s the sort of time to wind down a little bit and rest a bit.  There is still, and I would include myself in this, still a lot of people for whom online working is actually quite exhausting and are still, still just knackered from it and we, I think we all carry this, the sort of the emotional burden of the pandemic and the emotional labour associated with our jobs, within us as well, you know.  I quite enjoy elements of the emotional labour of my job.  I normally, I really enjoy being a personal tutor, I enjoy helping students out, all that sort of stuff but this year I really found my kind of reserves being depleted because I had so much going on in my own life but then also at the same time, if you were to think about a tank of petrol in the car, the demands of the students were increasing as well so that reserve was just being used up far more quickly.  #27

Too long without a meaningful break
I came to the conclusion at the end of last week that I am very efficient when I work from home – I plan my time well, I literally get more done, I don’t have all the faffing around with commuting, moving between buildings and so on.  However, I’ve been doing it for too long without a meaningful break and I’m running out of energy to work at this pace for much longer.  It’s also been hard to take leave – I tried to take some time off around the end of term/end of June to go away with my husband, but I ended up working every day including the weekend as there was so much work that needed doing.  Sometimes it feels incessant, exhausting and demanding.  #19

I feel as though I am on my knees
The current time is starting to become quite heavy because I kind of feel as though I am on my knees now in terms of how tired I am and also how unproductive I have become. And so, this is one of the aspects that is hard, and I can’t even imagine people that have other responsibilities like homeschooling, which I don’t.  These are kind of some of the aspects that we are kind of dealing with and I am starting to feel like this is starting to bear on my wellbeing, and I’m feeling more irritated these days. I get more out of focus because I’m thinking about this injustice for me, but you know this is also with accumulated fatigue of being constantly working and online, so the two combined with no break or change of scenery is really, really hard. #6

I felt like I was bleeding out
I felt like once my heaviest teaching load ended, I just started to give up a little. I no longer pre-recorded all my lectures like I had throughout term…which ended up giving students twice the usual contact hours. I no longer did all the extra bits and pieces that our ‘Move your module online’ module had told us to do. I was done. I felt like I was bleeding out, and not even sure if it made much difference to the students. I was doing a lot of additional stuff, volunteering and activism and I would sometimes think, “What have I done in a day or in a week that is actually just for me or just to actually make me feel better or to do something fun?”.  Like fun was not something I was doing at all and just that sensation of just, “I can’t do that anymore.”  And then giving up, I think it’s almost like my body just going, “No”, and my mind just going, “Uh oh!”.  #9

I never really disconnected
So the routine is you wake up, you go downstairs, you have breakfast, you come upstairs, you turn on the laptop.  And – this has always been the case, not just during lockdown, I can literally sit at my desk and work for hours on end without moving, which is not good, and during the lockdown it was even worse because it affects you not only mentally but also physically. So, I am trying now, from now on having just come back from a break, to take more regular breaks, and I am also starting to think about how I am going to put a new exercise regime in place, because I kind of fell off my routine in terms of exercise for a while, and I need to go back to it just to feel better with myself, and I think that kind of also stimulates my wellbeing.  But I am also cognisant that I need to go and take a break again in August, and I want a more extended break, because otherwise I am not going to be able to cope with next year. So, this idea that we are all going to push things into holidays and into the summertime is not working for me. Because, you know, even when I was on leave, I was still checking emails because I was worried about students in that there’s been, you know, because some students were either lagging behind, they had problems and people were affected by the virus so you’re always checking to see how they’re doing so I didn’t stop checking email which I usually I don’t do the first day, I’m not that good but by the third or fourth day of a holiday I stop checking emails but this time I didn’t so it felt that I never really disconnected and I felt like I did not have time to reboot. So yes, you feel really tired, you look tired, I started to look grey!   #6