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HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

Health[1] and well-being[2] 

 

Being an academic can be tremendously rewarding and engaging. Being an academic means getting the chance to conduct research on topics that you are passionate about, contributing to the frontiers of knowledge, and mentoring young students. However, being an academic can also be highly stressful.  

Stress in academia 

Academics face a range of challenges, including long work hours, a highly competitive and sometimes hierarchical atmosphere, and the pressure to rapidly and continually publish academic work. Other factors that can cause stress and impair well-being for academics include: 

 

Unfortunately, many academics experience mental and physical health complaints as a result of these pressures. Below are some of the stressors in academic work identified through research studies, and their potential outcomes:  

Stressors

Lack of resources e.g., funding, support services, financial support, fairness and autonomy in support [7][8][9].

Recognition e.g., limited access to promotions, inequitable pay, lack of rewards or recognition [7][8].

Workload e.g., task overload, work pressures, time pressure for managing competing tasks, student loads [7][8][9][10].

Leadership and management issues e.g., conflict between personal and departmental goals [8]

Job insecurity [8]

Lack of physical activity [11]

Outcomes

Mental health complaints e.g., psychological health problems, psychological strain, mental illness, loss of confidence [9][11].

Stress e.g., burnout, anxiety, exhaustion, distress [7][9][10][11].

Organisational outcomes e.g., reduced job satisfaction, reduced job commitment, withdrawal from role, poor performance [7][8][9]

Strained personal relationships, social dysfunction, poor work relationships [8][9].

Lack of resources e.g., funding, support services, financial support, fairness and autonomy in support [7][8][9].

The Relaxation and Stress Reduction workbook [18] provides clinically proven stress-management and relaxation techniques. Below are five steps better manage workplace stress:

  1. Identify how you respond to work stressors.

  2. Set goals to respond more effectively to work stressors.

  3. Change your thinking.

  4. When in conflict, negotiate.

  5. Pace and balance yourself

 

The workbook also describes a step-by-step model that you can use to turn worries into problem-solving:

1. Write down a specific situation that is really worrying you.

2. Brainstorm possible ways of improving the situation.

3. Evaluate each solution:

- If the idea is not possible, put an X next to it.

- If the idea is challenging to implement, put a ? next to it.

- If the idea can be implemented right now, put a Y next to it.

4. Set specific dates to complete all ideas marked with a Y.

5. Continue with doing the same for all ideas marked with a ? and, if possible, X.

Further recommendations include:  

  • Improve your time management or conflict resolution skills. Click here to go to Time Management or Managing Conflict.  

  • Improve your resilience. Click here to go to Resilience and Bouncing Back page.  

  • Talk to your manager or seek counselling when you’re suffering from difficulties at work. Counselling aims to get to the cause of work-related stress.  

- Visit the Australian Counselling Association (ACA), which is a national non-profit organization dedicated to counselling and psychotherapy in Australia.

- Find a professional counsellor in your local area.

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