I want to be healthy and happy again.
March 24, 2006 6:03 AM   Subscribe

I am quitting my day job? What kinds of things should I indulge in or good habits should I pick up before I go back to school in fall?

A little background, I work in a rather awful museum/nonprofit kind of place where the boss man is miserable and tries to make everyone else miserable. I dread coming to work in the morning, it makes my skin crawl, my stomach turn, my teeth grind. I sit at my desk seething half the day. I have packed on 15 lbs in the last year and greatly increased my smoking habit (5 smokes a day to almost a pack and a half)

I started working in a bar at night to save some money so I can quit. I will work from 8-5 and be absolutely exhaustive, then go straight to the bar and work till 3 and be absolutely happy and glowing. So, I decided that something has to break as my hair is falling out.

I am going to finish my Ph.D as that is what I have always wanted to do, but I have a little break. I want to get happy and healthy, break all the bad habits that these two very stressfull years have embedded.

So far I want to: quit smoking, start at the gym again, walk my dog, work on my landscaping, go ahead and start learning German again. This may be one of the last times in my life when I regularly have day time to do what I want. So what should I do. I live in Atlanta if that matters.
posted by stormygrey to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The summer before I started my master's degree I did a lot of walking -- in towns, in cities, in woods, along rivers, etc. Sometimes I would walk 16-20 miles in a day. It was a great way to think, and plan, and just spend some quality time observing what's around me.
posted by mrmojoflying at 6:06 AM on March 24, 2006

First of all, good for you! It's hard to feel good when you spend 50% of your time in a miserable environment. Sometimes trying to change everything at once is just setting yourself up for failure. Try to make the big changes gradually. Stop smoking in April. Spend lots of time landscaping in May. Develop a routine at the gym in June. By September you'll feel a million times better and be in a perfect mindset to go back to school.
posted by elvissa at 6:41 AM on March 24, 2006

Definitely start at the gym - work out hard. The hormonal changes from working out are impressive in their ability to make you feel happy and renewed.
posted by qvantamon at 6:43 AM on March 24, 2006

If you're going for a Ph.D, you may never have time to read for pleasure again.

So I would suggest reading all those fun trashy novels you've been meaning to read, preferably while gently swinging in a hammock with a cool drink close by, and your dog snoozing next to you.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:07 AM on March 24, 2006

Work on getting 5 servings of fruits and veggies into your diet...and a serving is a cup of fruit or vegetable, and not juice. Now would be a time to visit farmer's markets.
posted by Brando_T. at 7:11 AM on March 24, 2006

I have had some interesting success by creating an excel spreadsheet with all the things I want to do on a daily, biweekly, monthly basis and coloring the boxes green if I am up-to-date and red if I'm not. It's a challenge to see how much green I can get in the date column and the best part about it is that unlike creating unrealistic goals and getting down on myself for not keeping up a high standard - this system allows me to catch up just by getting back on the horse the next day. For instance - riding a bike every other day is one of my goals - I don't get to do it every other day but the weeks that I do it I at least get the satifaction of being green that entire week and that motivates me to color other cells green like flossing, reading a book, playing guitar and even defragging my computer! I've yet to have an entire green day but I'm doing a lot more things now that I used to ignore because I didn't think I had the time. The trick is not to set limits. Don't say you have to work out for an hour a day - you achieve your goal if you work out at all - even 5 minutes. Once your reach a level of consistency you can set limits. You'll be amazed how many more goals you achieve just by writing them down and looking at them every day.
posted by any major dude at 7:22 AM on March 24, 2006

I second SuperSquirrel. When doing a Master's or PhD, at least I had to read so much that I never had the energy to look at a book during spare time. So read the interesting stuff now.
posted by keijo at 7:54 AM on March 24, 2006

when i quit my tedious job and decided to go back to school i found that a summer spent gardening & growing veg was the best way for me to de-stress.
posted by tnai at 8:07 AM on March 24, 2006

"quit smoking..." - Well, there's a cheap but not easy way to do that. (1) Don't buy anymore. (2) Don't borrow anymore. (3) Throw out the ones you currently have. (4) Profit!
posted by smallerdemon at 8:17 AM on March 24, 2006

From a health perspective, quitting smoking should be priority #1. It's also going to be the hardest thing to accomplish, so you might want to start right away. Allow yourself time (and patience!) for relapses--most people try to quit a few times before they succeed. Don't beat yourself up if this happens. Just acknowledge it and try again.

Once you quit smoking, the gym will be easier and walking the dog will be easier. Think of the habit as one more thing to leave behind when you walk out the door of that place for the last time.

Good luck!
posted by jesourie at 8:39 AM on March 24, 2006

Create a schedule. I speak from personal experience: quitting a job and having a few weeks/months off before school is great. But it will disappear in an instant. Try to get up at a set time, exercise early, eat right, and set goals for personal things you want to do, whatever they may be (reading, playing outside, writing, something).
posted by teece at 9:22 AM on March 24, 2006

I did nearly exactly what you are about to do, and it feels so very, very good to leave a high stress job. Some things I noticed: Take the first week and just be. Sleep in. Order in. Allow the old job to get out of you. If you can afford it; travel. Even if it is just a weekender somewhere.

There will be days that a good book or the internet will take up the hours so quickly you will wonder if time was on a different schedule when you were at the old job. For the home days, cook some interesting new dishes and send letters to old friends. Do something silly- make sock puppets, paint on the windows, play.

On "I really can't sit at home anymore" days, go see the stuff in the city that was always closed by the time you got off of work. When you hit that point that you feel like you are disconnecting from the "real world" try volunteering with a group or project you have always wanted to help out in, but never had the time.
posted by haplesschild at 9:34 AM on March 24, 2006

I second haplesschild's comment about taking time off. I quit a horrid teaching job mid year-- gasp-- because it was making me physically ill. We only live once. We only get 80 years if we're lucky. We simply must make it worth our while.

Take time off if at all possible. Plan ahead to do what makes you feel cared for (massage?), alive (beach? family? travel?), and happy (comedy show? movies? friend-time?). Plan these things out so you have at least a long weekend full of happy. Do not count on getting those things done you never get to do (housework, etc.). This must be rejuvenating to you.

posted by orangemiles at 10:03 AM on March 24, 2006

Switch to the cheaper brand of everything you buy. Buy in bulk. While you still have money, invest in good, classic clothes that won't go out of style while you're in grad school. Use up your sick and vacation days, go to the doctor a lot (maybe the doc can help you quit smoking).
And every time the boss pisses you off, smile. You're a short-timer!
posted by Sara Anne at 3:28 PM on March 24, 2006

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