Monkeys Forest Tales: Some thoughs about work – life balance

Today’s post is again a personal one. Today we are going to talk about a bit about work-life balance in science. We will talk about why it is so important to get a work – life balance not only in science, but in any discipline, you work in and a bit of my life experience with trying to get that work- life balance that is so important for our health and well-being.

Life has its own way of showing you when you are not living a life that is in balance. Usually, your body give you signs in ways of fatigue, headaches or pain in other parts of your body, lack of sleep and other kind of signs that you should pay attention. But, when you are young, you usually don’t pay any attention…

When I was studying biology, work-life balance wasn’t something we talk about, actually, my days were longer than 12 hours, reading and making essays and reports…I didn’t realize the importance of having a work- life balance until I was doing my master. At that moment, I was studying and working at the same time and didn’t have much of a life. My days pass with a strict routine and a lot of work stress, until my body started to give me alarms. My stress levels were too high that my body collapsed, and I get my first notice…and I finished in a hospital…

Usually, for me to get balance in my life, I need forest and especially monkeys. It seems that combination is my perfect energy recharger. It gives me so much energy that I sometimes forget that I must be careful to not overwork. When you are a scientist and you are pursuing a career in academy, is common and even reinforced that to be successful, you need to overwork all the time, you need to work longer hours and not get holiday or free time. It is a wide culture that it is promoted by the system. Except by some smart people…

While I was doing my doctorate, I had the fortune to have an adviser who is also a great human being, who take the time to talk to you not only about work, but also about how to enjoy live and who usually, motivate you do social activities at the same time that you were doing your work. He tried to teach me a lot about work – life balance, I didn’t always listen to him, but I learned to appreciate what we did for me at the time.

Although I was aware of the importance of work- life balance, I did have another notice from my body during that time. This time wasn’t that bad, and I didn’t go to the hospital, thanks to my support system of friends and my supervisor. However, life has its own way to make us forget that you need to have other things apart from work, things like hobbies, family, sports, pets, etc. that help you relax and enjoy simple things of life… Now, my body is giving me another notice, still don’t know how bad it is this time, but make me wonder of how much I really have learned about work – life balance and if I had been smart enough to teach my own students to have that work – life balance in their lives.

So, the message I want to give you with this post is to really stop to think about how balanced your life is now and don’t wait until life and your body teach you that lesson. Spend time with your families and friends, take time to learn new things and have hobbies. Be active and practice any sport if that motivates you. Yes, work is important and making a good job is important, but don’t overwork, don’t burn out yourself with work, that will never give you back the time that you can spend with the people you love and the things you love to do…

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