The feeling of being ‘a little out of balance’ is probably something we all encounter at some point in our lives. Stress is on the rise, with the constant pressure to ‘do something special and meaningful.’ Coping with this situation can be challenging and there is no magic recipe that fits for all. The good news is we have uncovered a few ingredients you can choose from to create your own recipe, to reach and maintain a healthy work-life-balance in the long term!
The first step is to acknowledge that feeling ‘a little out of balance’ is nothing to be ashamed of. In an academic career, mental health issues are often ignored or rarely addressed. This is what led to the forming of the EGU ECS working group ‘Work-Life-Balance.’ This group consists mainly of Early Career Scientists (ECS), who aim to raise awareness about the importance of mental well-being in academia.
Since 2018, the group has met regularly to discuss subjects related to mental health and work-life-balance, and how EGU can better support scientists in this endeavour. Editors note: It is important to note here that neither the working group or EGU can, or intends to, provide medical advice in the area of mental health, and if you are concerned for your own health, or that of a friend or colleague, you should seek professional support in your own country. We merely want to raise awareness and de-stigmatize mental health concerns in academia through sharing personal experiences and support. An EGU blog series, an ECS Great Debate at the General Assembly in 2019 and three short-courses at the General Assemblies in 2019-2021 lay the foundation of this year’s work.
Last year (2021) continued to be a challenging one because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Protecting our mental well-being in times of home-office and changing lockdown regulations is now more important than ever. We’d like to invite you to have a look at our EGU blog series “Mind your head” to find your own way of developing a healthy work-life-balance or to discover ways to maintain and strengthen it. This blog series was first started before the development of an official ECS working group, but we now contribute with blog posts that cover a wide range of topics including tips on time management, mindfulness and productivity as well as information on how to overcome the imposter syndrome. In addition to these blog posts which speak to a wider audience, we also contribute to more specific blog topics. For example, if you are a parent or thinking of becoming one, the blog post about the challenges and perspectives of parenting in academia is definitely worth a read!
During the General Assembly, a large focus of the ECS working group is, of course, to provide information about mental health in academia. While last year’s ‘Mind your Head’- Short Course at the vEGU21 focused on the symptoms of depression and anxiety at the individual level (a follow up to the 2020 ‘Mind your Head’ short course), this year’s program will focus on mental exhaustion and how it affects you and your working environment. Additionally, there will be an event dealing with glossophobia, i.e. the fear of talking in public. Both short courses will include tips and advice on how to deal with these issues. Look out for them and join us as we practice mindfulness, yoga and other sports!
If you are interested in joining the ECS working group to help organize these events or have suggestions for topics or activities at the General Assembly or in a webinar, please get in touch with us at email@example.com.
Apart from preparations for next year’s General Assembly, the ECS working group meets on a monthly basis to discuss ideas to raise awareness of mental well-being in academia. Last year, we collaborated with a PhD candidate with expertise in psychology and mental health within academia. Currently we are planning on a cooperation with the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) on mental health while on fieldwork, and on a year-round mentoring scheme similar to the mentoring scheme offered at the General Assembly.
Lastly, we have an upcoming webinar on mentoring on 9 February 2022 at 16:00 CET. A good mentor or supervisor creates a safe, friendly and well-balanced work environment which in turn, makes your work day less stressful and leads to a healthy work-life-balance. Come join us in our mental well-being journey! You can register here for our webinar today!