Time change malaise

It’s Wednesday morning. I’m sitting at my desk, watching faces on a screen, my fourth virtual meeting of the day and it’s only 11 am. I’m bored with this streaming service, the year-long zoom binge of work finally grinding me down.

I know I need to move my body — but I’m in trapped in inertia, my body feeling like an action figure whose semi-bendy legs have been permanently stuck in a crouch position. You could take me off this chair and I’d still be in chair shape. My first meeting was at 730, and I didn’t manage to get up for a workout at 6 am. Just here, on the chair, looking at the faces.

As a friend commented on facebook, the 2021 time change sure feels like a slap in the face.

This New Yorker cartoon that’s been circulating on FB is so so apt.

Throughout this year, I’ve been the queen of self-care — working out an average of 1.3 x day, sustaining daily yoga practice for weeks and months at a time, spinning higher than FakeEverest in Zwift, getting up for my beloved Virtual Superhero workouts most weekday mornings. But since the time change? I’m just plain cranky. And I have barely moved my body at all.

My mood this week.

Every year at this time, tons of ink is spilled about how this shift in circadian rhythms is harder on our bodies than we commonly assume when we think about “just an hour shift.” I am feeling this even more intensely this year. The sleep interruption, the shift in rhythm, the coincidence with the exact anniversary of the lockdown. The delay of March Break for schools from this week to April, meaning that the lighter week I usually count on isn’t happening. A windy cold whipping up the air again. Perpetual lockdown. It’s all tripped me up. I feel like an angry little hedgehog that just wants to hide under a log.

Monday, despite a morning workout, everything made me cross and I had to go remove myself from human contact and escape into a rewatch of the first season of Downton Abbey. Which made me stay up too late and repeat the cycle.

When I step back and inquire about what I’m really feeling, what this lack of energy points to, I think I see a glimpse of a kind of burnout on the horizon. I’m not there yet, but a year of mediating everything virtually, four months of being in the “grey zone” lockdown, navigating a world where my clients (in healthcare and education) are immersed in their own strain and anxiety, where an opened up future dances toward us and tantalizingly bobs away under vaccine delays and growth in “variants of concern” — all of this is closing down my resilience. And this crankiness? Is giving me important information.

This is where I really need to lean into my foundational commitment to moving my body, to self-care, to my self-identity as a person who understands how to look after myself, to wedge me out of this malaise. To eat something nice but nourishing, a little mindfully. To let myself sink into walking and stretching for a bit, letting my fluid definition of “workout” remind me that not all movement needs to involve sweating and hopping. To give myself space to re-discover, gently and when I’m ready, what it feels like to work my body hard.

Emmylou would like me to nap every afternoon

Because right now? Like everyone, I’ve been working my whole self really hard, for over a year now. It’s okay to slow down. It’s okay to just… .breathe. Cuddle the cat. Take a long bath. Go for a short, slow jog in the sun. Let the sun fall on my face. Look for a sunset. Breathe.

What about you? How is the time change affecting you? How are you hanging in?

Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who is waiting for spring in Toronto.

10 thoughts on “Time change malaise

  1. I have to say that the picture of your mood this week is pretty darn cute! So I hope your mood passes into the tenderness and love that porcupine provoked in me. And oof, I’m with you–I cracked my eyes open at 7:25 this grey, rainy morning and my first thought was–well that’s the day wasted. Sigh.

  2. Yep, I hear you. And we haven’t even changed our clocks yet in Europe, so here’s something else to look forward to in a week and a half’s time… :-/ I hope it passes soon for you!

  3. For some reason I decided on Saturday to give up coffee. An episode of what I think was gall bladder or pancreatitis laid me low Thursday night to Saturday. I decided it was too much coffee and too much snacking, so my new plan was no eating after 7 pm or before 10 am. And no coffee until after lunch, and then only 1 small cup.

    I’m still dragging through this. I am not sure what is helping, but I feel better digestively. I am exhausted though.

    I do not like the time change one bit.


  4. Same, same. The time change was brutal this year and I’ve been sleeping in all week. Also on the edge of burnout and need a self-care day.

  5. It’s posts like this that keep me following this blog. I haven’t been so good with self care. And it’s wearing on me. This was a kindly reminder that we all have ups and downs and we need to get back at it even when, and probably especially when, our bodies don’t feel like moving. Thank you!

  6. It has not affected me one bit because I never changed my body clock in November. Seriously. A few years ago, I decided I would go on a Standard Time strike, so I just keep getting up at the same time after the time change. (Meaning, by the clock, I’m getting up an hour “earlier” from November to March, and also going to bed an hour “earlier.”) Great for morning productivity, and no changes to the body clock. Highly recommend!

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