You may find it hard to wind down and shut off from your research, but it’s so important to take some time to relax. Here, Amy suggests a couple of ideas for activities you might like to try as a break from research.
While it may seem hard to manage, perfecting a work-life balance is vital when it comes to thriving during research. While life in the library or the lab may feel all-consuming, taking a break can do wonders for both our productivity and our mental and physical wellbeing. There are lots of great things to do to wind down and relax during your research, and in this blog, I’ll go through a couple you might like to consider.
Exercising and exploring the outdoors
First off, it’s worth noting that finding an activity that you find enjoyable might take both time, and some trial and error. But making the effort to explore new activities and discover things that you’re passionate about outside your research is invaluable. For example, I’ve been told by friends to try out yoga and pilates so many times, but personally, I find the whole experience more stressful than relaxing! However, when I began my research degree I decided to start climbing and bouldering on a whim, and have found that it’s something I love to do, despite not being very good at it!
Trying some sort of new sport is a great way to branch out and try something different. Whether this is going for a run, joining a sports club or going to a class at the gym, there are plenty of options. Here at Warwick, the local area has some picturesque running routes that definitely motivate me to get outside and exercise, such as the Kenilworth Greenway, Newbold Comyn in Leamington Spa, or simply jogging around campus. However, there will be sure to be some green space or mapped out routes wherever you’re based! Trying an app like Strava for running or cycling is great to find new routes and track your progress, and can also allow you to connect with other people in your area. AllTrails is another good resource if you’re into hiking, and even simply using a fitness tracker can give you the motivation you need to get outdoors and get some fresh air.
Joining a gym can be useful both because it can be flexible and personalised to your day, and because it is great for finding sports classes, and connecting with your local community. Check out your local gym, or even a local sports club if there’s always been an activity you’ve been itching to try. Wherever you are based, there are bound to be sports clubs that are open to all members of the community. And lucky us, here at Warwick, the new Sports Hub has just opened– with new facilities and plenty of classes on offer, it’s definitely worth checking out even if you’re a complete beginner. However, most universities have their own gyms, some even offering discounted prices for students and researchers. All it takes is a quick Google search!
Getting to know your local area
Moving away from exercise, there are so many other types of attraction to visit in your downtime. Generally, simply exploring a new part of your town can really motivate you, and help you see things in a different light. Personally, I recently visited FarGo Village in Coventry, which I’d never been to after four years living in this area, and it was nice to see a bit more of a town I didn’t know as well as Leamington. Taking a walk in a new place, or visiting a park or other outdoor space can be so refreshing. Simply looking on TripAdvisor to find out new places to visit in your area can open your eyes to the attractions on offer, whether you’re into museums, art galleries, shows, National Trust locations or even just a bit of shopping!
Becoming part of your local community
Giving back to your local area can also help you feel more connected to your community, especially as research can often be quite isolating may sometimes make you feel disconnected from those around you. I would recommend trying to find volunteering opportunities if you’re looking for something to help you switch off from research that is also worthwhile and productive. You’re can make a difference to those around you, and activities like this can be as high or low commitment as you wish – ideal for fitting around the research. You could dedicate whole weekends to volunteering if you wanted, or just one evening every couple of weeks, if that suits you better – even just supporting your local library, can make a difference!
Hopefully, you can now see that there are plenty of opportunities to try out new activities in your local area. It’s important to look after yourself and take a break from your research every now and then, so whether it’s a new sport or a volunteering scheme, get out of your comfort zone and try something new!
Whatever activity you decided to try out as a break from research, we want to hear from you! Tweet us at@ResearchEx, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment below.
Amy Kynman earned her undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Warwick in 2018. She is currently working towards a Masters by Research in chemistry, also at the University of Warwick. Her research focusses on the chemical reactivity of rhodium complexes, with the aim of utilising them for carbon-carbon bond forming reaction. Alongside her studies, she is Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the University of Warwick’s student newspaper The Boar and aims to eventually undertake a PhD in organometallic chemistry.