Have a plan
Sometimes, there are so many things on the agenda, e.g. reviewing a paper, writing several yourself, doing experiments, writing science communications, caring about your household, even meeting friends gets a task, that the workload gets too much and you cannot really concentrate on anything because there are all these tasks in your head – makes you feel like you don´t get forward at all, besides the fact that you actually get a lot of work done.
It can be overwhelming, in my experience, to think about all the things you have to do. Write them down, get them off your head. This way, you make sure you don´t forget something. Plan your week, and have only some of the task scheduled for each day. Be realistic, and don´t add too many to each working day. And never forget to also add some private time to your schedule!
Do some sports that keep your head empty
Can´t stop thinking about your job? Personally, I´m really bad in relaxing and emptying my head from all the thoughts for a while. I tried meditating, but it didn´t work for me – I just can´t stop thinking. But I´ve found that going for a run or doing some instructed yoga helps me with this – concentrating on my movement and listening to someone telling me what to do keeps my thoughts away for a while and leaves me really relaxed. And it´s good not only for my mental health but for my physical health, too.
Get involved in martial arts
There are tons of situations in science (and life in general) that leave us really angry. And, speaking of me at least, you might get really wind up on this, and feel really unrelaxed and unable to get over this – very stressful. For me, I´ve found a perfect way to get over this.
Don´t be a nice girl. Try some martial arts. No, really. Since I´ve started to take Kung Fu and Krav Maga classes, I´m incredibly relaxed. By the way, I´ve never hurt myself or anyone else, besides some bruises. But it´s so worth it. Also, it boosts the self-confidence. And the nice side effect – you learn to defend yourself if anyone ever tries to hurt you.
Dance like no one is watching (when no one is watching)
I´ve always loved this. Music can do so much for you (if you´re into music, and who isn´t?). So have a playlist with your favorite songs, listen to them really loud, and just dance! Never fails to lift my mood and leaves me happy and relaxed. Even during my fieldwork in Madagascar, I´ve sneaked away from camp to do this – listening to favorite songs on my iPod, and just jumping and dancing around in the savanna. Once, when turning around, I realized I was stared at by some young local boys who were just on the way to their village. They seemed to be a bit shocked. Quite likely they have never seen a white person before, and there was this crazy redhaired scientist jumping around and singing loudly. Poor guys, I´m sure that was quite a story in the village.
Meet your friends
What´s better than meeting with the people you love and care about? Having a chat with them about just everything, and being able to talk about whatever is on your mind? That´s some real quality time, and you should not skip this just because you have so much work to do. It´s so important, and when you feel good you will also be way better in coping with your tasks at work.
General advice: Know what´s good for you, and treat yourself to it
These are just the things that work really good for me – what works for you might be different. It´s important to observe yourself and to learn what´s good for you and what isn´t. Maybe binch-watching your favorite show or reading a good book is your way to relax. Cooking seems to work for many people, too (unfortunately not for me, all that burned food, argh). So, whatever it is that makes you feel good, treat yourself with it.