Work-life balance is a concept about proper prioritization between “work” (career and ambition) and “life-style” (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development). And lifestyle is a choice.
How many times you have been told that doing PhD is a lifestyle? When was the last time you believed or felt like it is?
Indeed, to do PhD is a choice, but it is choice of a career path, it’s personal ambition. If you see the definition above, that means that doing PhD is work and not a lifestyle, and given that, it has to be balanced with what’s happening in our lives outside the labs. And yes, if you wondered, there is life outside the lab :)
The long working hours, weekends spent in the lab, stress to meet the expectations and go beyond them, the inability to balance our passion for science with our passion for life, just to name few common challenges every PhD student is facing, are all taking their toll on our physical, mental and spiritual health. And however unfair it sounds, it is all because of our own choices and because of the idea that being a PhD is a lifestyle. We all, collectively, chose to act as it was. But there is only one little problem with that… It isn’t! And the only way to maintain or rebuild (if you are second year PhD student or above :) ) our own lifestyle is to change that perspective.
When you are done in the lab with what was needed for the day, just leave. Go play music, go do your hobbies, go do nothing at all, or just take time for yourself. And most importantly, don’t feel bad about it! Next time you meet your friends from science outside the lab please speak about art, fashion or whatever, but rather leave the science locked in the incubator for some time. Leave it there and give it time to grow, give ideas time to multiply, it will only then lead you to better productivity.
We will probably all agree that science is fun. Science is great and it is very captivating, but sometimes, if we leave it aside for a while, we will revisit it with clear mind and fresh attitude and that way we will certainly contribute more. Remember, even Archimedes “Eureka!” happened while he was enjoying his bath.
So, dear PhD fellows, I invite you all to at least think about it. The only way we can change the environment is to start shifting our own perspectives. Build your own work-life balance and enjoy it! And do not forget… Before you leave the lab disinfect your hands and minds and remind yourself: “what happens in the lab, stays in the lab”!
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