Looking to Experience Rapid Decompression
November 6, 2014 6:39 AM   Subscribe

I'm leaving a job that has me pretty burned out, and moving into a program that should be much more exciting and fulfilling, but will be pretty intense, and I want to be at my best. What do you do to destress, respoon, and generally recover from burnout when you only have a couple days to yourself?

I'm leaving a temp job at the end of this week, that has me feeling somewhat burned out. (There's nothing in particular wrong with the job or the place, except for the fact that it's a job-type I've spent the last couple years doing, and those years have basically been one long, slow revelation that this is a job that I find very stressful and am not particularly good at.) On Monday, I start a bootcamp-style training program with the hope of changing careers into something that I expect to be more rewarding, both personally and monetarily. This is exciting, but also a little scary. I expect the training to be pretty intense, and I want to be at my most rested and ready going into it.

If I had had more ability to plan my schedule, I probably would have taken a week off in between to literally and figuratively put my house in order and get myself logistically, intellectually and emotionally ready for all this, but as it happens, I just have this weekend.

So what do you do to rapidly decompress? What should I spend my weekend doing? Often my instinct in these situations is to veg out in front of the TV or games, but often as not that leaves me feeling more drained than energized. What can I do in two short days to get myself relaxed and ready to kick some ass?
posted by firechicago to Human Relations (16 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
When I'm at a transitional point in my life, I've found it helps to spend time with friends so that I have a chance to talk things through, air out any anxieties, learn from someone else's experience, and get my head on straight about my plans and priorities.

What I'd want to do if I were you would be to arrange to visit a friend in another city (which would make the couple of days feel longer, because I'd be out of my usual environment and routine), and spend some low-key time with them hanging out, talking, making meals together, and so on, which for me would be both relaxing and helpful in terms of processing the impact of a big life change like this. Obviously, your mileage may vary.
posted by ITheCosmos at 6:46 AM on November 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

I try to have a good relaxing (for me Science Fiction) novel on tap and just unplug as much as possible, curl up in a corner and don't rush around.
posted by sammyo at 6:51 AM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

If it were me, I'd declare it a screen-free weekend -- no computers, no smartphones (except as a phone), no TV. I'd go for at least two long hikes in nature; if that weren't possible, I'd do intense cardio at the gym both days and still take some long walks in my neighborhood. I'd make a vow to journal but not do it, because it's not something that works for me, but I would try to listen to music I really loved while cooking and eating healthy food that I love. I'd read a well-written novel in actual paper-and-ink format. I'd try to reconnect with supportive encouraging people, maybe on the hikes or walks, maybe over dinner. I'd limit caffeine and alcohol so that I slept really well.
posted by jaguar at 6:59 AM on November 6, 2014 [6 favorites]

If I only had two days, I would put a bunch of really energetic music on my phone and then make a list of things that I should get done in order to have my life as sorted as possible by the time the bootcamp starts. Stock the freezer with food you can heat up quickly for meals, make sure you're totally caught up on household chores, make sure your home work space is well-organized. You'll feel more relaxed come Monday if you don't have a lot of things that you feel you need to get done besides your studies. If there are things you can't actually do this moment, make sure everything's at least written down somewhere that you'll see it, on your calendar, that kind of thing.

After that, I'd try to do some moderate exercise both Saturday and Sunday, do more elaborate cooking those two days since I might not have time for it for a bit, and try overall to stay off the computer since you're going to have more than enough of that for awhile. If you've got a local social life, go out with your friends at least one of those days, since you may have a tough time making plans for awhile.

This has always been my beginning-of-semester plan while I was in school, so I figure it should work pretty well in this circumstance, too. Good luck!
posted by Sequence at 7:04 AM on November 6, 2014

I think I would go on a two-day hike/camping trip in that scenario. The exercise is obviously good for decompressing and clearing your head, and removing the ability to check your phone/computer/tv is even better.
posted by joan_holloway at 7:09 AM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Dissenting opinion, I'd party like it's 1999, see how many bars I can get kicked out of, and make that transition something that either went in the blink of an eye, or took bloody forever like a bad acid trip.
posted by colin_l at 7:27 AM on November 6, 2014

Take out a craigslist ad: "nothing romantic, not even something necessarily sexual, just looking to go make an ass out of myself at karaoke for a couple nights in a row. If you can kick my ass in that department, and want to train a neophyte up to your speed, let's go!"
posted by colin_l at 7:29 AM on November 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'd do a hotel night (maybe two if I found a deal). Preferably a place with a pool that is usable this time of year, or a spa with a steam room (and maybe massages!).

If not a hotel, then maybe a day spa, if you have access to the kind where you can get a couple services and then spend the rest of the day soaking, steaming, napping, hydrating, and chilling out reading a book you've been looking forward to. If you do that on Saturday, have a quiet dinner and a nice sound sleep, on Sunday you can tidy up around the house, do laundry and organize your closet/pick your outfits for the week, maybe cook ahead some stuff to make lunch from, go buy yourself a new notebook and pens.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:32 AM on November 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

I had a "surprise" week off between my old and new job. I spent two days doing absolutely nothing - sweat pants, Netflix, video games, etc and it was glorious. One day was spent catching up with some old friends. The remaining time was spent doing all the random errands and house work I kept putting off because I didn't have enough time.

One thing I would absolutely not do is sleep in. More often than not, sleeping in just makes me feel like I wasted the day since I got up so late and usually feel groggy the rest of the day.

I don't know what it takes for you to relax since everyone is different but I would take this opportunity to treat yourself a bit. Are you a brunch fan? Check out that new brunch place. Play video games? Go ahead and buy the one you want and don't worry that it's still full price. Feel like doing nothing? Order a bunch of delivery and watch some movies On Demand. Haven't seen your friends for awhile? Getting an awesome new job sounds like a great excuse to hang out.

After one day of treating yourself, be productive. Deep clean your place, make some premade meals, run errands, get stuff in order before starting your job. After you're done mopping the kitchen, treat yourself again! You've earned it.
posted by Diskeater at 7:32 AM on November 6, 2014

Best answer: Hot bath. Bathtub beer.
posted by deludingmyself at 7:39 AM on November 6, 2014 [6 favorites]

When I was in that scenario I went to a hotel with a great pool, good restaurants, and a spa. Lounged by the pool, took in a massage, slept when I wanted to. It was awesome.
posted by vignettist at 7:47 AM on November 6, 2014

Best answer: I would do some hiking, or go wander around a part of town I don't regularly visit.

My go to method for hitting the reset button on my brain is just wandering around aimlessly.
posted by selenized at 8:17 AM on November 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

I am in now way a fitness nut, but would recommend that, at least once between jobs, you do something that tires you out physically.
posted by SemiSalt at 8:38 AM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A clean house is amazing for mental clarity. I would at least pencil that in for part of the weekend. You will wake up Monday morning ready to go!
posted by Vaike at 8:42 AM on November 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Some advice that I found particularly useful when wondering why my "lazy weekends" often left me feeling drained: Many people react to stress by getting super hyper tense and drinking caffeine to power through it and buzzing around in a little tightly-wound tornado of anxiety (think of the stereotypical "Type A" personality here), and those people need to find low-key ways of relaxing and learning how to "not do" in order to recalibrate their systems.

Others of us (myself included) tend to react to stress by ignoring and procrastinating and cocooning and playing videogames or staying on the computer and otherwise slowing down to a crawl in order to avoid the stressful thing. In such cases, we're generally using the "relaxing" activities as a way to avoid tackling things, and doing more "relaxing" things just leads to feeling more anxious and depressed. We may actually need to speed up to relax -- do something physical and difficult and totally engaging, rather than something that tunes us out.
posted by jaguar at 9:34 AM on November 6, 2014 [21 favorites]

Sleep and do nothing.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:17 PM on November 6, 2014

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