Ironically, I work at a mental health company but I’m really bad at prioritizing my own mental health. Life’s been going at a blistering pace for the last four months since my return to San Francisco in January. I’ve been training hard for this upcoming marathon, spending every waking moment with friends and kicking off work projects left and right, leaving no time to myself.
Similarly to why I don’t take rest days during training, I rarely take time off from work. Even though I scientifically understand why my body needs time to repair itself after hard efforts, I also know that I am susceptible to burnout. But I’m irrationally afraid of losing fitness over the course of a single day, and I worry that people will disproportionately notice the times that I am not there to help projects stay on track or when I am not being ever-present for my direct reports. My Garmin tells me that I’m constantly overtraining and my Sunday scaries have gotten so bad I get them on Saturday.
Unluckily (or maybe, luckily), I got Covid last week and everything came to a screeching halt. I spent most of the week horizontal and definitely wasn’t running. It felt like someone had replaced my brain with a pile of cotton balls; I couldn’t even hold a conversation. No sprint planning or product review or incident remediation; just breathe, eat and survive. And honestly, it felt really good to have this external excuse to give myself a break.
Contrary to my fears of things falling apart at work, my colleagues and especially my team helped me realize that I’m so much less crucial than I thought I was. Turns out everyone was just fine missing a week of 1:1s and honestly they probably ran sprint planning better without me. As for my fitness, my lungs are a bit slow to recover, but I managed to run some decent mile repeats just a week after testing positive.
Getting Covid was a weird way to remove a lot of pressure I exert upon myself in all aspects of life, especially running and work, and I’m hoping to hold a more sustainable pace in life moving forward.
(The cotton balls are slowly turning back into brain cells, one by one.)