At this time of the academic year, you may be starting to think about planning a holiday. Sophie explains why taking a break is beneficial and why pushing yourself out of your comfort zone on your time off can help with your PhD. Moreover, it might just lead to the best work you do!
During your PhD, it is common to feel guilty about taking time off work but there are plenty of benefits to taking some time out. Although it is great to go abroad, taking a break doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be equally enriching to stay in your local area and try new activities, going camping or even organising to stay with a friend. Below are four reasons why you should consider taking time out and how this might help with your PhD!
1. Something to look forward to
Research suggests having the experience to look forward brings us much more joy than acquiring material things. Planning a break cannot only make you feel good but also give you something other than your PhD to focus on in your spare time. There are plenty of websites that can offer inspiration for ideas on what to do! I have also found in the past that having a trip or time off to look forward to has increased my productivity because it gave me a deadline to work towards. What could be a better way to reward yourself for your hard work?
2. Challenge yourself
Undertaking a PhD can sometimes feel like a huge mountain! Recently I was lucky enough to travel around Sri Lanka. One day I woke up at 2am in the morning to climb an ACTUAL mountain for sunrise. After climbing to the top, I thought if I can do this, then I can do anything! Challenging yourself in other areas besides your studies can help to build your confidence, so next time you are feeling uncertain about your PhD look back on what you have already achieved.
3. A fresh perspective
When you’ve been working on something for a long time, it is easy to lose motivation from time to time. Visiting a new place or organising a meeting with friends can give you a break and offer a new perspective on your work. As you relax, this can also give you time to think of different approaches/ideas. You may find a rest will leave you feeling refreshed and excited to return back to your research.
4. Being flexible and trying new things
During a PhD, it is important to be flexible and open-minded as you may find that you need to change your plans more than once. During my PhD, I changed my participant recruitment strategy for one of my studies, which meant learning about a new method and re-submitting my ethics form. Although this delayed one part of my PhD, I have been able to make a lot of progress in other areas and I now have a larger sample of participants. So how about visiting somewhere new or perhaps an activity you haven’t tried before? You may find that trying new things may boost your confidence and be enjoyable. Not all change is bad and experiencing it can help you stay positive when you face new obstacles during your studies.
5. Do NOT forget to have fun
This is the most important point! Sometimes a PhD can feel overwhelming and serious. In order for you to produce your best work, fun is vital! Whilst your PhD is important, so is enjoying the life you have outside of it. You don’t want your only memories of the past four years to be in the office/library/lab.
Final words: As you can see, taking a break during your PhD is a form of self-care. It may offer you the opportunity to relax, recharge and even learn some new skills!
Do you have any travelling plans this summer? Are you perhaps planning on taking a break after reading this blog? Tweet us at @ResearchEx, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment below.
Sophie Clohessy is a second year PhD student in the Applied Psychology team, WMG. Her research is investigating eating behaviours in the workplace. She has a background in Health Psychology and is passionate about healthy eating and exercise for wellbeing. You can follow her on Twitter here: @ClohessyS