A career in academia can be all encompassing at times – I’ve personally found my PhD to be something that I think about quite a lot of the time. However, being so involved in your own work can be problematic at times.
As PhD research, (any research for that matter) can be so demanding it’s sometimes easy to forget to take proper breaks. I’m not talking about taking evenings and weekends off (this I’m pretty good at doing), but I mean taking a week off here and there to do something not related to your research – or even do…nothing.
I recently took some annual leave (which at my university I get 30 days of). I took this time away from my own research and the lab and here are some thoughts I had about the importance of taking a break.
Taking a break can help reinvigorate your passion for your project
Second year is a strange part of the PhD process. You’re not a newbie anymore and if you’re doing a lab-based project your days can start to get filled with lots and LOTS of experiments. Sometimes you may be doing new and exciting experiments but the majority of the time you may be doing the same experiment’s over and over again. Experiments can sometimes become monotonous – and monotony can sometimes make you forget why you love your project. By taking some time away it can help remind you why you love what you do!
Taking a break can help to remind you of the bigger picture
This is pretty similar to point one but I still feel it’s something that’s important. In a PhD it is very easy (in my experience) to get consumed by the small details. I mean the whole point of a PhD is to become an expert in something pretty niche and so it makes total sense that we can become obsessed with the small details. But this can mean that we forget about that big, important picture – and I’ve found this to be the case for me at times this year. The big picture for me is that I care about dementia research and I want a career as scientist, and I think these are really important things to keep in mind.
Taking a break can help your brain rest
Research is HARD. It’s mentally demanding and our wonderful brains get tired. For me, because I really enjoy what I do it’s sometimes easy to forget to let my brain rest. But taking some time away from my research has allowed me to do this. And by taking some time to rest I can actually view my research through new eyes.
So, I hope this little piece serves as a reminder to take a little time for yourself. It’s so easy to not take time away, thinking that you have so much to do. But as we all know, that to do list isn’t going anywhere and your research will survive without you (hopefully) for a couple of days. YOU DESERVE THAT BREAK.
Beth Eyre is a 2nd year PhD Student at The University of Sheffield, researching Neurovascular and cognitive function in preclinical models of Alzheimer’s disease. Beth has a background in psychology, where she gained her degree from the University of Leeds. Inside and outside the lab, Beth loves sharing her science and we are delighted to have her contributing as a regular blogger with Dementia Researcher, sharing her work and discussing her career.
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