We are about to embark on the last week of July 2023. The summer is reaching it’s peak, the beaches are becoming crowded, and the Italian academic industry is slowing down to a crawl in anticipation of the August break.
As a PhD student in this industry, my daily life usually revolves around deadlines, experiments, and endless hours in the lab. So, when summer break arrives, it’s the perfect opportunity to embrace a different pace and prioritize self-care. Let me share with you the three things I won’t be doing this summer.
1. Stressing (about my job)
Stress is an unavoidable part of life. It’s is a conoction of survival chemicals that help us identify and achieve our most important tasks. During a academic year, my daily stressors stem from my duties as a PhD student. This includes getting to the lab on time, coducting a certain number of experiments per day, or preparing for conferences.
However, when the summer break starts, I commit to leaving this type of stress behind for a different flavor of stress.
Instead, I will stress about travelling with my mother. I will stress about finding a good resturant in a new city. I will stress about getting on the right ferry to Elba Island. Then, I will ride the wave my stress to enjoy the moments that it helps create.
2. Letting a Scarcity Mindset Hold Me Back
A scarcity mindset is a belief that there is never enough – not enough money, time, opportunities, or resources. It is a fear-based mindset that breeds feelings of lack and limitation.
A scarcity mindset around finances is a surefire way to ruin a summer break. The self-limiting fear will rob you of opportunities for spontaneity, adventure, and connection. Lucikly, there is another mindset we can adopt: abundance. An abundance mindset recognizes that the sky is the limit if we are able to see the good in everything.
At any given moment, we have an abundace of joy, love, time, and a wealth of other riches. Money is only the middleman between where we are and where we want to be. So, although I will be keeping one eye on my bank balance, I will be more focused on gratitude for the things I will have and do this summer.
3. Living a Hedonic Lifestyle
Before starting the PhD, summer breaks were an excuse to follow every momentary pleasure. There were many weeks where I woke up after noon and barely left the house. Because of an exausting academic year, it’s easy to fall into the trap of a pleasure-filled summer break.
However, as I grow into my life, I’m learning that pain and pleasure must live in balance. Leaning too much on the pleasure side only makes the potential for pain even higher. In fact, this dependece on pleasure as a way to avoid pain has been suggested to be the source of addiction to pleasure-producing substances or behaviors.
Therefore, I will not use the summer to overindulge in pleasure. I will use my free-time to get better at building routines for a healthy lifestyle. I will try to sleep more, wake up earlier, run more, lift regularly, and of course write! These behaviors are all associated with pain (e.g. lifting weights is physically painful, going to sleep early means sacrificing binge-watching Netflix). However, they also produce the pleasure of a well-balanced life. And this will serve me way more in the long run as I return to the daily routine of a PhD student in September.
While I’m looking forward to starting the summer break, I think it’s important to take the time to reflect on what I will be leaving behind at the end of the academic year. I will trade in the stress of work for stress about travels. I will cultivate an abundant mindset as much as I can. And I aim to balance pleasure with some pain that will help me in the long run. If you’re reading this, I urge you to take 5 mintues to reflect on how you’d like your summer break to be!
Let me know in the comments if you have any exciting plans.