There are some days where I feel absolutely burned out. Whatever the reason, I just don’t feel like I’m making much progress with studying or research. Sometimes it’s best to take a short lived break during the quarter (maybe an evening or so)! To get my mind off of school, I stop whatever I am doing (of course, only if it does not conflict with any nearing deadlines!) and go for a run! Or a bike ride! There are countless articles in both peer-reviewed journals and newsletter magazines that talk about the factual and anecdotal benefits of exercise. In a “Letters to the Editor” section of the Primary Care Companion Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Dr. Ashish Sharma, Dr. Vishal Madaan, and Dr. Petty write about the benefits of exercise and mental health, in their article “Exercise for Mental Health.” They state, “Aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing, have been proved to reduce anxiety and depression. These improvements in mood are proposed to be caused by exercise-induced increase in blood circulation to the brain and by an influence on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and, thus, on the physiologic reactivity to stress.” The authors go into further details on the scientific reasoning behind the linkage of exercise and better mental health, but the message is clear, exercise helps! (Link to the letter)
A participant in the STEM field is more or less likely to spend many hours sitting down. The demands of studying and pursuing research can add on a lot of stress, so I’ve found exercise to be quite a good outing. The beaches near UCSB are really a great place for a run on a sunny afternoon. Even more, the bike paths in Santa Barbara are great to ride through if you haven’t experienced it yet! The bike path that leaves past the engineering buildings go well past the Henley Gate and these lead to long, relatively flat bike paths (favorable for any one who rides fixed-gear!) that reach the downtown Santa Barbara area, which are not as flat as the path near UCSB. Sometimes, a small break from school, research, and academic work is needed to get back into the game. It’s like restarting your computer after it’s been left on for days!