There's plenty of evidence to show that after a stressful period in our lives, we become addicted to cortisol, the hormone that powers us to 'fight or take flight' when in danger. Being stressed becomes the new normal and we unwittingly put ourselves under unnecessary pressure to maintain what has become our new equilibrium. It's probably why I drink industrial volumes of coffee each day.
But in preparation for my next career, which will follow a one year full-time MA at UEA, I've started resigning from the things that have kept me busy over the past year or so. I've told everyone that from the end of June, I'll no longer be involved. This will give me the summer to get my head ready for my year at university. It will also allow me to create a new, more relaxed and I hope creative inner equilibrium.
I've been surprised by how difficult this has been. I guess it's like an alcoholic banning himself from the pub, or the wine aisles in Sainsbury's. There's a danger that new work can quickly flood in to replace what I'm trying hard to move on from. Already I find that a business trip to Beiruit has appeared and been just too tempting to refuse. I need to get better at saying no.
Already, with one project whisked away the moment I gave notice of my intentions, I'm finding I have time to question why I have always filled my weeks to overflowing with challenging work. As someone said to me last week, we have to 'give our passion the oxygen of our attention.' That's something I'm only now learning to do.