If you follow me on social media, you might know that I’m currently attending my last conference of the season. I’m lucky that it’s local, so it only required a short drive from my home to get here.

This may be my last conference of the calendar year, but it also happens to be the busiest one for me. The POD Network conference is where educational developers gather, so I’m reconnecting with colleagues that I’ve nurtured relationships with for the past 10 years or so.

In addition to the normal sessions to attend and the one-on-one meetings that I’ve scheduled with colleagues, I also serve on POD’s board, so I spent a couple days before the conference at a board meeting before the conference actually kicked off. I’ll also be presenting a poster and a session here, so each day is pretty packed.

The POD conference, like many others, is a bit of a marathon. It’s long, with lots of networking opportunities, so I usually just prepare my introvert self to become a bit depleted. It’s not uncommon for me to end the conference exhausted and in need of some serious recovery time.

This year, I’ve done something a little different and, reader, it’s already made a big difference.

I’ve proactively identified available pockets for solitude, and I’m unapologetically using them.

Yesterday afternoon, for example, I had the opportunity to sneak away and take a short nap in my room. It’s only conference day two of five, but I was already feeling run down by lots of meetings, a lack of exercise, and I knew I had to gear up for three more networking events that evening.

That decision to rest in the afternoon was the best thing I could have done for myself. It allowed me to be more rested and engaged in a late night of events that kept me up past my normal bedtime (thank goodness I’m in my own timezone — my heart goes out to my East Coast colleagues).

The best part? I feel absolutely no guilt. Instead, I feel like I’ve unlocked a secret that I should have realized a loooong time ago.

Rather than wait to for exhaustion to force me to take breaks, I’m taking breaks to head off the exhaustion.

Simple, right? I’m a little amazed it’s taken me this long.

And, yet, talking with colleagues throughout last night, I realized how many people had been pushing through since 3am due to long travel days, storm delays, and a sense of obligation to be present the entire day at the conference.

It turns out I’m not the only one who struggles to be proactive about self-care.

If I want to be present for others in my sessions, meetings, and during networking, I need (and want) to bring my best self. It just so happens that my best self requires naps and alone time.

To think on:

  • How do you proactively take care of yourself?
  • What signs tell you that you need a break?