How we like to rest varies dramatically from person to person. For Melbourne-based Researcher Dr. Katie Mack, a weekend on the sofa and a Sunday run is about as ideal as it gets. Mack, whose work involves finding new ways to learn about the early universe and fundamental physics, prefers activities that allow her to completely shut off.
Mack admits she struggles to find rest, so we discussed how she’s learning to recharge--she says it starts with saying no to weekend work:
What's your biggest struggle with finding rest?
Finding the mental space to completely put down the work and the worry about it; it’s a continual struggle. I try to recognize burn out when it’s happening, and be generous to myself about how much time I should reserve for sanity maintenance.
At any given moment of any given day, if you asked, “would my career be better off if I was working on my research papers right now?” the answer will be yes. In research, nothing is ever really complete, so it’s hard to find moments where you feel you’ve “earned” a break.
What's your number one way to rest on a Sunday?
I usually go for a run on Sundays, which can be restful in a different way, because it prevents me from reading e-mail, or flipping through social media, or thinking about work.
My weekends are often taken up by various work-related things, but when they’re not, I tend to spend the time lying on the sofa. I’d love to say that I spend my time creating artwork, or writing novels, or reading great books, but mostly when I’ve burned myself out I watch TV. It’s nice at times to turn off my brain completely.
How do you overcome any worry feel about work during the weekend?
I’m still working on not worrying about work over the weekend. Getting enough sleep would probably help; I should try that. Actually, having a network of people who go through the same kinds of struggles helps a lot; you feel like you’re not alone in the work anxiety.
What’s your advice for someone who struggles with finding rest?
All the stuff you see in the media about how you should never stare at your phone right before bed, is as far as I can tell, excellent advice. Someday I will have enough self-control to follow it.
Follow Mack on Twitter.