Tag Archives: research life

A mini pre-retirement pause

I’ve decided to take the rest of December off from work. After straining through these last projects with little progress, I’m attempting a different approach. I finally recognize that I need time away — even if I’m staying at home — hoping that that will help lift my sense of complete burnout. Can I regain a more positive mindset after only a month?

I’m not sure that I’ve ever allowed myself to do this. I’ve never taken a sabbatical or a break longer than about a week, except when my Dad died years ago. Every year I donate copious leave that I’m unable to use — literally thousands of hours over the years. But not this year. I’m taking every flipping hour that I’m entitled to.

And I feel super guilty about it.

By virtue of our research positions, we aren’t supposed to use our leave. It’s there. It’s available. But we get the side-eye when we dare to take time off. As if taking a break to refill ourselves makes us less dedicated to our profession. Administrators love us for this trait, even when it threatens our ability to care for ourselves. The inability to cope is taken as a sign of weakness, and so it is further buried in our psyche. I can’t help but believe that this is planned to maximize what is taken out of us.


I also thought that I could use this month off as a mini trial-run for my retirement in 2021. Will I still want to retire this early? How will I feel at the end of this trial? What if I am still depleted and burned out?

It’s only Monday of the first week, so it’s a bit difficult to predict if this will have any effect. I noticed that I was stressed yesterday because I sensed that the weekend was drawing to a close and I would soon have to face the job again. Then I remembered that I was taking leave today and literally felt a physical release. My brain felt a “whoosh,” and muscles that were tense relaxed. Absolutely amazing that this has such a strong physical connection.

I have to remind myself that there is no need for guilt. I absolutely deserve this.

Photo by Square Lab on Unsplash