Allow yourself to rest.
A few weeks ago Mr Matosin and I checked out of Munich and headed for the sea. 5 days off (Friday to Tuesday), we left our laptops at home, put our phones on flight mode and completely switched off. I can’t remember the last time I’d done this.
We surfed every day, and while physically exhausted from 3 hour surf sessions morning and evening, my mind was calm. I was grounded, surrounded by water, the negative ions floating through the air into my nose and filtering the sand through my wiggling toes. We filled our days with soaking up the sun, tasting the salt, post-surf churros and chocolate and pintxos and Spanish craft beer. Best of all, we talked, dreamed, planned.
Last weekend i turned my phone off for 5 days and enjoyed some days at the beach, surfing, breathing, feeling. Another level of slow, reduced visual and mental stimulation. A chance for the big ball of nerves to slowly unravel. In a time when being switched "off" is frowned upon, it's more important than ever. Allow yourself to rest. Then come back bigger and better than ever. #ecrchat #lifeofascientist #science #scientist #phdchat #ecmr #ecrchat #younginvestigators #womeninstem #womeninscience #neuroscience
For me, what was most interesting about the trip was the health benefits. No headaches, no foggy brain, no laying awake at night. I’ve been having skin problems for about a year, with a lot of those deep and painful pimples on my face and arms. Within two days, my skin had totally cleared up. At first I thought it was the water, but now I’m convinced that its stress. A couple of days into being back at work in Munich, and its started again. Not surprising as I often catch myself holding my breath and my stomach tensing up.
I am a worrier and a stressor by nature. I’m much better at easing it these days, but its definitely my homeostasis and so I work hard at reducing it. I meditate daily, write my thoughts into a journal, eat well, drink water and I run and practice yoga when I can. I’m ashamed to say that when I get really busy that those items fall off my priority list despite that its completely counter-intuitive. My husband, who is a super chilled out guy, is always telling me “slow down, you go faster.” After ten years together, his truth bombs still resonate. I always wish to be more like him.
When we look after ourselves and make sure we are thriving rather than surviving, we function at our best. That is when we are the most productive and useful. Its imperative that we allow ourselves to rest. We live in a world where we are constantly multi-tasking and its interfering with our ability to concentrate, connect and focus. Its socially unacceptable to take holidays and to disappear off social media and emails. How on earth are we going to maintain our relationships and sanity like this? Its not a sustainable model for most of us.
I made myself some promises while we were away and I had some mind power to think. I promised that every morning, even if its before I climb out of bed, that I would spend five minutes thinking quietly about what I was grateful for and visualising what I wanted to achieve that day. I have at least three hours a day where I do not use technology. I am reading actual tangible entertaining books. Mr Matosin and I continue to sit down and have a home-cooked dinner together every night (we’ve been doing this for the past seven years of living together). I’ve turned off notifications for emails and social media on my phone. I check them when I choose to, not when the apps command me to look.
We are also making plans to change our lifestyle in an attempt to lead a calmer, happier existence. Living in Munich has been a challenge for us since my husband is Director of his IT company in Australia and has been managing it all remotely. He’s super flexible which has been critical for me, but it also means that he works Australian business hours – permanent night shift. We are looking forward to being back on the same schedule and also close to our family, communities and networks. Our house by the beach in Australia awaits our eventual return. There are many benefits of living by the sea: encouragement to get outside and stay active, and the wonderful smell of ocean air and open space. Best of all, we’ll have our dog, Henry, back. He’s the most loyal fluffy happy German Shepherd. There is nothing like a dog to help you practice mindfulness, and his unconditional love make it impossible to feel the effects of a stressful day for very long.
In the meantime, we will be practicing more slowing down. It takes some discipline but we are building healthy, sustainable habits. Its rewarding to see how over time, these healthy habits have changed our outlook and also how we interact with each other and those around us. And most importantly, we continue to spread the culture of self-care and self-preservation to keep us and those we care about from burning out.