LettersNextgen Voices

Pithy burnout prevention

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Science  05 Jul 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6448, pp. 22-23
DOI: 10.1126/science.aay2936

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We asked young scientists this question: In exactly six words, what is the secret to preventing burnout? In their succinct responses, scientists from around the world suggested ways to prioritize breaks, focus on the positive, and find inspiration in work, hobbies, and community. Our respondents urged researchers facing burnout to take care of themselves, whether that means setting boundaries or giving themselves permission to splurge. Follow NextGen on Twitter with hashtag #NextGenSci. See all NextGen Voices results at https://science.sciencemag.org/collection/nextgen-voices.

Invest in hobbies

Improve a skill unrelated to research.

Ming-Ju Amy Lyu, China

Walk while listening to soothing songs.

Jian Zhang, China

Incorporate parkour tricks into coffee runs.

Raf Aerts, Belgium

Channel exhaustion to creativity; art works!

Shruti Sharma, USA

Sing loudly! It's socially acceptable screaming.

Tiffany Phu, USA

Rescue a dog, catalyst for joy.

Matt Joseph Kuhn, USA

Regenerate neurons by exercising. Start yesterday.

Athanasia Nikolaou, Germany

Do something that brings joy daily.

Carson Alice Wills, USA

Beer tastings count as field research.

Beth McKinnon Adamowicz, USA

Watch kitten videos during conference calls.

Aric S. Campling, USA

Cultivate community

Chilling with friends makes me fireproof.

Vanessa Karina Alves da Silva, UK

Work with people who respect you.

Marion White, USA

Tell your supervisor about your feelings.

Clara del Junco, USA

Intentionally cultivate honest, supportive work friendships.

Rosalie Shinwei Doerksen, USA

Margaritas with temporary friends at conferences!

Heather Burkin, USA

Recognize other people's confidence in you.

Jonathan Marquez, USA

Coffee with lab friends is indispensable.

Joel Henrique Ellwanger, Brazil

Team sports and friends outside academia.

Andrés S. Rigual Hernández, Spain

Cook elaborate meals for your friends.

Leah Cairns, USA

Take your time and get support.

Ingrid Zuniga, Mexico

Read bedtime stories to the kids.

Ben de Haas, Germany

Set intentional goals

Find permanent positions with permanent funding!

Sacha Escamez, Sweden

Find work that fits your personality.

Robert P. Tett, USA

Share long-term ambitions with collaborators.

Yuta Igarashi, Japan

Define your target. Focus on it.

Allison Matia, USA

Set relevant, achievable, and short-term goals.

Marcela Viviana Nicola, Argentina

Divide big projects into smaller tasks.

Lin Wang, France

Celebrate success

A glass of beer after brainstorming.

Luiz H. Varzinczak, Brazil

Dance, listen to music when stressed.

Karishma Shaik, India

Impromptu, solo dance parties to Toto.

Déna Jansen, South Africa

Recurring break to garden and hike.

Aminata Coulibaly, USA

Learn to enjoy the small successes.

Satyanarayana Subrahmanyam, India

Remember the wins and stay grateful.

Caitlin M. Aamodt, USA

Acknowledge and celebrate team's progress weekly!

Salma Kaochar, USA

Delight in the success of colleagues.

Catherine Carbone, USA

Find meaningful reward in the journey.

Carol Lee Wilkinson, USA

Maintain perspective

Try your best. Let it be.

Junxiang Cheng, China

Remember! You are not your job.

Rachel Hale, New Zealand

Keep the big picture in mind.

Sarah Ch'ng, Australia

Recall why and how you started.

Jing Woei Li, Hong Kong

Have something more important in life.

Amanda Linnea Karolina Jonsson, USA

Love yourself more than your work.

Mallory Rose Peterson, USA

Recognize burnout's systemic, not personal failure.

Rachel Yoho, USA

See the inner child in everyone.

Joseph Michael Cusimano, USA

Focus on the joy of discovery.

Richard Gaughan, USA

Bonfire: Reviewer 2's comments as kindling.

Colin Murphy, USA

Prioritize self-care

Mindful breathing, 15 minutes every day.

Oriana Jovanović, Hong Kong

Sleep! Even Einstein got 10 hours.

Josiah Dykstra, USA

Appropriately titer your caffeine:ethanol ratio.

Kelvin Yen, USA

Invest in yourself and experiments equally.

Victoria Tokarz, Canada

Know limits; take care of yourself.

Ruwansha Galagedara, Sri Lanka

Resting creates space for great ideas.

Ingrid Olivares, UK

Internet-free day keeps burnout away!

Martin Schwarzer, Czech Republic

Regular breaks, including a postlunch nap.

Rambabu Korrapati, India

Talk with a mental health professional.

Carl Davidson Gandola, USA

Set boundaries

Delegate all tedious work to minions.

Thomas Alejandro Berrueta, USA

Work actual contract hours, not weekends.

Klaudija Daugelaite, France

Honor and respect work-life balance.

Shahienaz Hampton, United Arab Emirates

Remember, “breakthrough” starts with a “break.”

Anne-Sophie Hafner, Germany

Thou shall not do it all!

Mac Kevin Ella Braza, Philippines

Realize long hours don't equal productivity.

Edward Lau, USA

Do not take on unnecessary responsibilities.

Evrim Fer, Turkey

The secret: Learn to say “No.”

María Romina Schiaffino, Argentina

Refuse to do what doesn't matter.

Shervin Fatehi, USA


Indulge in guilty pleasures without remorse.

Yong Tang, USA

Give yourself permission to be selfish.

Howard M. Huynh, Canada

Ignore serving size suggestions on snacks.

Do Soon Kim, USA

Eat cake...Didn't work? Eat more!

Michael Patrick Schwoerer, USA

Sugar is brain food. Keep snacking.

Emily Royse, USA

Coffee before lab. Goodbye, steady hands!

Mark Martin Jensen, USA

Ditch that coffee and just snooze.

Charles Teta, South Africa

Clean house. Just joking. Netflix binge.

Ken Dutton-Regester, Australia

Conference in Hawaii. Don't attend talks.

Soham Saha, USA

Deep breathing (if inhaling food counts)

Dhruv Patel, USA

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