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Somehow, it's already mid-June.

I've managed to take a little time for myself over the break so far, but have mostly been working. It's always something: Pride Month at Tor.com! Being an editor! Writing fiction! Tackling the disarray this fucking house has fallen into! (I did actually clean the coffee table of assorted detritus yesterday, and scrub it with wood polish. So, that's nice.)

I know, intellectually, that if I don't make space for myself, it isn't going to make itself. Work will multiply like a well-fed bacterium. But, well, how?

This is something I clearly need to figure out, sooner rather than later.


I used to make space for myself by putting it on my to-do list.

Probably not the route for everyone, mind. But when I was having serious problems with self-care, it was damn useful. I put every meal of the day on the to-do list along with homework and chores. I put things like "talk with friends" and "hang out with the spouse" on there, and "read a book" (which only counted books I liked, not classwork), and even "play video games." (When I hit bottom on depression, I can't even play video games because they're too intimidating, since they have failure conditions.)

And, well. It helped somewhat. It gave me a tiny sense of satisfaction when I marked things off the list. It fought the guilt I had over doing things for myself, because, hey, I had consciously decided these things were important, and could tell because they were on the list. Which made it okay! Or at least a little more okay. And it helped me get more into the habit of taking some of those breaks.

That sort of worked for me.
I do schedule "hang out with friends" and the like on my day-book, but not nearly often enough--I'm more likely to fill the day up with work first, and then wiggle in an hour of something else as an afterthought. But, yes, the "schedule in time for fun" is a trick that seems to work for me when I do it.
Have specific times for things, because otherwise it turns into "Clean ALL the things" -- you can't keep it up and you burn out. This is one of the hard lessons of working at home. I don't work after 8pm, because at some point in the evening I start having no brain, but also because it gives me that space. If it's a real crisis I do, but if I am having a real crisis every day that's a problem to address.

When you are in Liverpool you are going to have Seasonally Affected Depression because everybody in the entire country has it even though they don't mostly know, but there just isn't enough daylight that far north in the winter. (Look how far north Liverpool is. It's up there with Labrador.) So get a full spectrum lamp, and spend an hour a day just having space for yourself in that light, because otherwise you will lose cope. Do it the same automatic way you shower.
"I won't work after x-o'clock" is a good idea. My habit for the past year or so has been to work through the day until I can't any more, and then possibly watch a little television until I can sleep. This is... Clearly not a good plan for the long-term. I just got in the habit while buried under deadlines, and haven't gotten out of it again. I'll give some thought to enforcing a "no more work after 10" plan; that might do the trick. (The difficult part will be not just ignoring the new rule.)

I've heard about the ferocious SAD from a friend who just got back from a semester studying in the UK - she was fairly miserable until another international student told her to get one of those lamps. I will absolutely be doing that.