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Slowing Back Down: Reentering Regular Life After a Busy Trip

Adjusting after a busy trip can require a change in energy and focus.

Key points

  • It takes some adjusting to slow down and get back to normal after a busy work trip.
  • Reentry into regular life after a work trip might involve doing less for a while, gathering oneself and one's energy.
  • Slowing down, listening, and thinking are like skills or tools that get rusty but can be quickly refurbished with use.

A little over a week ago, I got back from a two-week trip. On the trip, I was talking to lots of people about my work and myself, traveling from one place to another, doing some public speaking. When I got home to my regular life, I had the strangest feeling, as if I had been on another planet for a while and now I was back on the planet I usually live on. Reentering my home planet took some time; it didn’t happen all at once.

It was as if I had to change my focus—literally, I had to change where and how I aimed my attention—and I had to relearn how to slow down and stay in the moment. I was aware of the process as I was going through it; aware of the fact that I had been focusing outward during the trip and now I needed to focus inward, at least to some extent.

I needed to slow down and pay attention, deeper attention, to reading, writing, pausing and looking out the window, and even listening to my friends when they went into detail about what had been going on with them. At first, I found it a little hard to focus on exactly what they were saying—my attention kept wavering—but I stuck with it, and after a few minutes, the ability kicked in, as if listening is a skill or a small tool that had gotten rusty or worn out and could be restored with use. Not that I wasn’t listening when I was on my trip—I was listening all the time. But this was a different kind of listening. Or maybe my listening ability had gotten tired and needed to be restored. And the same was true for the other stuff too: slowing down, thinking, writing—it was like I had to relearn how to do all of that.

Mary Allen
Resting and recovering
Source: Mary Allen

I got back on a Friday and I tried to jump back into doing the things I usually do in my regular life on Saturday. I really wanted to reconnect with the friends I regularly see. Plus, I felt a little guilty about neglecting them, and I really wanted to go to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning and replenish my produce. But at about nine o’clock on Saturday morning I realized I was too tired for that. It came to me that I had been putting out energy—emotional energy, psychic energy—and now I had to gather it back in, bit by bit, by doing less than I wanted to, staying home, doing things around my house, not talking very much to anyone. That’s what I did, and I felt better by the end of the day, ready to resume my regular life and be myself.

That was 10 days ago. I still feel a bit tired, but mostly I’m back to myself, doing all the things I usually do and ready to go on another one of those trips.

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