Summer Stress

Busy spring and summer are behind us, with presentations at European Society for RADIOTHERAPY & ONCOLOGY (ESTRO) and the Canadian Organization of Medical Physicists (COMP). It has been full activity in the lab, and at home. The students have worked very hard on their projects, solved many problems, generated new results and written manuscripts. I am very proud of them and impressed by their curiosity, commitment and hard work. At the same time my children have had summer vacation with camps and activities, relatives and friends have visited from Sweden and I have had many grant writing and review deadlines.

Summers are always stressful for a researcher mom, or at least for me. During the summer, when the sun is finally out, I would like to spend more time outdoors with my children. I feel guilty when I spend too much time at work. The guilt is there like a heavy cloud obscuring the sunny sky, no matter what I choose. The feeling that I can always do more, squeeze my hours and days so I can get the most out of it, that I always let someone down, my children, family, students, colleagues, the visiting relatives and friends or miss a deadline.

Part of our family vacation this year we decided to camp in the national parks of Quebec, and for the first time since I started working, I didn’t bring my computer and postponed the deadlines. After a couple of days, I could totally relax, disconnect with the world outside and enjoy the present with my family. Hiking, talking, enjoying the scenery, listening to the birds and animals, experiencing different scents of the forest with my children, and being there all together, not occupied or disconnected by a screen gave me strength to come back full of energy and totally recharged. I skipped the conferences at the end of the summer and beginning of autumn to be able to concentrate on what I care about the most; my family, students and their different projects.