I don’t have much of a social life, and most of my time is spent on work or assignments, but I do strongly believe in a balanced life. My concentration is not of such caliber that I can become entirely focused on work, to the exclusion of all else. More importantly, I think an imbalance in life leads to misery.
I have done quite a bit of describing my responsibilities, in volunteering, work, and grad school, but aside from a few casual hints, I have never really brought up what I do to stay sane (definition of “sane” being relative, of course).
Some of my favorite “balancing” activities:
1. Soccer – I tried out for the intramural soccer team this year, and made it onto the Division 1 team! The season is short, only five games and a tournament, but even so, it has provided me with invaluable experiences and relaxation. For the time it takes me to get to, play, and get home from soccer games, I have a commitment, that has nothing to do with school or work. I can put away the guilt, the worries, the stress, for those two hours every week, and just enjoy playing. Not only that, but there is so much literature out there in the world about the beneficial mental side effects of physical exercise. I believe it.
3. Reading – This is something nothing will ever take away from me. I read like I am addicted to it. Although I have less time for reading now than I did as a child (surprise!), I still spend some time every day reading for pleasure. You might ask, why do I read for pleasure when I do so much reading for school and work? I don’t have a concrete answer for that, except to say that it is different.
4. Dinner with friends – This doesn’t happen as often as I would wish it to, but the dinners my good friend and amazing cook makes for me, and the conversations we have over the food and after, are some of the best evenings I have had since I started grad school in a new city.
5. Swimming – Challenging as it is, the half hour I spend in the pool with two of my good friends is one of the most relaxing half hours of the week. Not quite a commitment, the benefit comes from the exercise, the endorphins, the chats in the locker room, and somehow, the pool itself.
6. Exploring – Again, I don’t get to this as often as I would like. Having been in Toronto for just over a year, I want to get to know it as well as I can. All the different neighborhoods and cultures, the festivals, the coffee shops…
7. Cleaning – Still doesn’t qualify as relaxing, but it makes a positive difference in my ability to focus at home, when I do it regularly.
What do you do to balance work and fun/relaxation?