From Success Strategies for Women in Science: A Portable Mentor

MENTAL REST AND RELAXATION

Our physical bodies require regular periods of rest and relaxation (R&R) in order to recover sufficiently from training and prevent exhaustion and injury . So, too, do our minds. Not only do we need to take breaks from the (often intense) intellectual work of scientific research for rest, social interaction, play we also need to pause regularly from the intellectual and emotional work involved in developing mental toughness. No mental training program will be successful without it. If we do not allow ourselves sufficient time away from the rigors of mental work, we will suffer fatigue and (eventually) burnout.

You have learned how to stop negative self-talk, defuse your reactions, and moderate emotion during pinch periods and times of confrontation and conflict, but these strategies do not always completely defuse the associated tension. We need to develop other strategies for letting off steam and recharging our batteries so that we can approach each new day afresh, without the burden of unresolved emotion or mental exhaustion. For some circumstances, a good night s sleep is enough. In other situations, more active strategies are needed.

The nature and duration of periods of mental rest and relaxation will vary with your needs and circumstances. Do include in your tool kit strategies for short-term stress relief (that you can interject into your busy days), conflict/crisis relief (for dealing with mental tensions associated with stress), and long-term mental health maintenance. Try different techniques to learn what works best for you in every situation. If...

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