I do not have a good work/life balance. I’m looking for tips on how to get mental space that is not work-related. What do you do and how do you do it?

I don’t really know how to balance work and life. Call it the curse of the academic or the “follow your passion” lie of “find work that you love and you’ll never work a day again”. But, even saying “fuck that” to starving myself any further to follow “my passion”, I ended up in an engaging, mentally stimulating job that I’m good at . . . which I can’t seem to turn off from. And the stress is an issue.

The upside of this is that it’s because my work is really engaging and I can see how it impacts day to day life. But, it’s a rapidly moving area that requires constant upskilling and being very plugged into the news. Which means in addition to the constant low-level guilt of “I haven’t finished that thing and I should be working” where you never acknowledge that you have a need to just rest that I suspect most people who have done advanced degrees are very familiar with, I can’t really escape work stuff by farting around online. Even going on Giz-media blogs to relax, there’s at least 3 work-relevant posts. My GT Tweet Beat posts are mostly carefully curated to not include the work-related Twitter stuff, but it’s there every time I check my feed.

My closest friends here are mostly either work-adjacent or have a strong interest in the field or adjacent fields. Like . . . this is fine for having interesting conversation, but it doesn’t help for limits. Mr. lurker and I generally try not to talk work, but OMG he’s now working on the same issue.

I have difficulty committing to regularly scheduled social activities because I can have an irregular work-travel schedule, and even when not traveling I may be at a client’s in a far flung part of the city with long commute times. I’m trying to get back into regular exercise again at least.

What do you do to unplug and how do you do it?