As a grad student my struggle was that our cohort was explicitly told in our first year, by multiple professors, that if we took more than 6 hours off (including sleeping) from thinking about our projects, that we would fail.
Added onto this was a professor who told me, proudly that they hadn't been on vacation with their partner in over 16 years, they used this as a justification as to why I shouldn't take time off
I was also told: "Needing to see your family is a childish excuse for a vacation". That if I did outreach I was wasting research time. That if I celebrated giving a talk & a poster in the same day - I was wasting research time
When I gave a Key Note recently to graduate students I encouraged them to go 24 hours without responding to an email - there was an audible collective gasp & some nervous chuckles. When I suggested they go 24 hours without even checking it - laughter erupted (not in a + way)
As graduate students, we feel like we cannot take time off because of the systemic pressure to lose ourselves to our program, our research. So many are told the same lies I was.
Even once I moved in to a healthier, supportive lab where my PI encouraged time off, family time, mental health & self care - I still had to fight hard against those strong voices I heard those first two formative grad school years.
It literally took years of therapy to undue the voice in my head that would never turn off - that was constantly trying to get me to work. It was traumatic. Getting reprimanded for taking time to celebrate success was traumatic. Getting punished for seeing family was traumatic.
No. I'm not being dramatic here.

And yes - graduate school should be intellectually challenging, but it should not be traumatic, I've previously addressed this distinction here: chronicle.com/article/Gradua…
Graduate students: you are allowed to take time off. Yes, it is a mental struggle to turn that " I should be working" voice off - but learn to do so early. Graduate school is a job, it does not have to be your whole life.
Profs, Chairs, Deans: think about the messages you are sending to your graduate students about time off. Is it encouraged? Do you praise the students who balance time off with quality work when they get awards? Or do you emphasize the over-workers? (I've only seen the latter)
Profs, Chairs, Deans: do you have policies in place that protect students from over exploitation by PIs? Policies that put in writing time-off for grad students? Resources for students if they feel they are being over exploited?
Students need to know that they are more than their work, that their value goes beyond their research.

Grad students: You are more than your work. You are enough. You have value because you are you. Take time off, enjoy life - it is happening now, it won't wait but work can.
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