On a journey from stressful to restful being

I slide easily into stress. I’m very good at concealing it too, even from my self. This used to be my superpower for survival, but over the years it has become a burden.

Like for many others, Covid-19 pandemic pushed me into anxiety, stress and worry. They were hard to avoid with all the measures causing changes in our everyday lives. One year after the declaration of a global pandemic, I wrote about my initial shock and the persistent societal patterns, such as the un(der)evaluation of care work once again revealed by the pandemic (available at SUCH  blog). But what I did not write about is me falling back on familiar patterns of stress and worry.

Image: Harri Säynevirta (Kuvia Suomesta)

This spring has been the one of the hardest ones since six years ago when my father passed away. Or forever. Before the pandemic, I was starting to feel better, thanks to seeing a therapist and coming to terms, yet again, with my past. But lately I have admitted that I have relapsed into these old, familiar and powerful patterns that do nothing good. While I know I cannot worry myself into solutions, I sure have tried.

I start my vacation with heavy, or should I say stressed hearts. I have little expectations beyond rest (whatever that means for me now). I wanted to share this place of mine for a number reasons:

  1. Ideal academics do not rest. In the toxic academic culture academics should use their time off to write their next A level journal article. This is wrong. I don’t want to be part of a culture that does not allow rest. If my rest means an end to my career in research, let it be.
  2. Mental health issues are common but still less shared than other updates. I have been quite silent until now. Normalising rougher patches of life is good for us all. We are humans who experience many phases in life. That’s it.
  3. I started to get a hang of this all when I finally asked for help and broke the pattern of silence in actions too. First it was declining or cancelling some meetings. Then it was asking for help at home. Then something else. I can do this.
  4. Rest does not come easily after working a lot. I find this to be a culturally shared pattern and thus, to some extent, beyond one’s individual control. People are rewarded for working too much, while rarely it is asked for what and why. This is among the set of reasons why I want to make degrowth world possible (others being eg. ecological crisis). We need a society that values other things than continuous economic growth that pushes for higher levels of exploitation and capital accumulation. We need more wellbeing for humans and other-than-humans.

I wish restful holidays for everyone!

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