As with all diurnal cycles, mine begins with the sunrise. I blink my eyes open in the blue hour when some of the city still sleeps. Then, the hum of a singing bowl encounters my body with the crispness of morning air and a subtle shiver. Invigorating!
A so-called typical day in my life as an MSc student at the Wits School of Physiology can be tricky to convey. I often find that the best I can do is have a plan but go with the flow. Whatever transpires, the sun will rise again tomorrow. I can plan to read 30 journal articles a month, and sometimes the one-a-day mentality works out. Yet, life outside of the university perimeter does not slow down to ensure I don’t sometimes miss my one-a-day aim. The vlog that I’ve created to share a Friday in my life with you reminded me how I try to integrate three main themes into every day:
- Rest. This theme moves beyond just adequate, restorative sleep. It embraces that I am a person who makes mistakes and needs to regulate my emotions. This is “down time”, not processing power. This is giving yourself space to do what you can to breathe a little deeper. Prioritize intentional rest.
- Digest. Postgraduate “demands” are often overwhelming. Feeling stuck between writing paragraphs or tearful frustration after an hour of feedback can rain upon your progress parade! It becomes increasingly useful to digest my day, one metaphorical meal at a time – the information I have taken in; the discursive encounters with friends and colleagues; or the embarrassment of nearly hitting a professor with an obnoxiously oversized, yellow sign that reads “Silence please. Exams in progress.” Sorry again, Prof. Woodiwiss!
- Invest. My friends ask “So, if you’re still waiting to finalize some niggly bits of your project, what do you do to stay busy?”. I make it a point not to stay busy, but rather to keep motivated. Each day, I do as much as is within my reasonable capacity to invest cognitive energy, desire, passion (and even complacency, fear, fatigue) and patience into what I want to create for my future. I read, write, engage, challenge, and absorb.
How might these themes materialize? Playing piano in the Adler Museum has kept me balanced on lengthy campus days (reads: rest). I also spend a portion of my work-and-play time analyzing starred sections of journal articles and transforming my thoughts to prose, not for reasons other than love and intrigue (hello, howzit, digest)! I volunteer for the South African Society for Sleep and Health as a content creator. I allocate about five hours a week to this (invest, invest, invest).
So, rest when you need to. Find your way to chew up the challenges of your day. Finally, this is a gentle reminder that on some days self-investment means doing less. Less than that. Lesser, still.