Books away, pencils down...

Saturday, Apr 6, 2019 | Tags: work, stress, mindfulness

Full disclosure

This is just as much for me to hear as it is for anyone else in the full-swing of postgraduate research.

This blog post is about taking care of yourself.

An understatement of the year would be that pursuing #research through a degree programme is stressful…

  1. You need to compile foundational and background knowledge through reading.
  2. You need to do your research, in your own means, in order to explore and interrogate your research question. …What that means to each researcher is different. You could be observing video and live performance, collecting music of a certain class or category, or participating in a focus activity of your research such as sessions or educational environments. You could be conducting fieldwork trips to the country, county, city, or establishment in which your research is located. You could be interviewing ‘x’ amount of people. Depending on linguistics requirements you could be translating texts – interviews, articles and lyrics. Your studies could be taking you into deep theoretical territory. You could be conducting a series of workshops in order to collect data.
  3. Then you need to analyse all of this wonderful information that you’ve collected.
  4. After that you need to begin #writing up your dissertation.
  5. If your research involves #Arts Practice, you need to be thinking of your own embodiment through performance.
  6. You need to keep yourself and your research active and visible through conferences, symposia, recordings and publications (which may involve #travel).
  7. I’ve most likely left out a few necessities, but you get the idea.

The tricky thing, though, is that this is not a linear process, especially in the #performing arts. It’s circular and cyclic - one day you’re confident and on your way to prepping for your VIVA, the next day, you’re back to the books! All the while, you’re simultaneously trying to maintain social and financial stability. Big things can happen, which can throw your balance off completely- a big life event, a tough sickness, an important occasion.

During all of this, you also need to be looking forward and planning, preparing for, and acting upon career opportunities.

It’s very easy to drop some of the plates that your spinning in order to keep your research up and going. You’ll be less social, you’ll get less sleep, you’ll be on your computer, in the field and in the books more, you’ll be less aware or concerned of your #health and #wellness routines. I’m telling you from experience: Last year, between my research, planning my wedding, working(ish), staying connected with friends, family and the world, AND maintaining myself, I ABSOLUTELY saw the effects of heavy #stress, both mentally and physically.

I’ve been wallowing in the woes of #postgraduate research to say that your research is not more important than your mental and physical health; your wellbeing. Please for your own sake, take breaks when you need to. Be #mindful, honest, and responsive with yourself.

Close your book, your laptop, your eyes…

take 3 deep breaths…

and go for a run…

Or join a sports team, JOIN A CHOIR!, bake something challenging (that you can eat later, yum!), meditate, create new rituals, go to bed early, dance in your kitchen, learn how to do a new craft – like crochet or woodwork, draw, go out with friends, volunteer, meet new people, take a trip.

Do something that you enjoy that is COMPLETELY unrelated to your research.

Trust me. The books, your dissertation, your performance, your interviews… they will all be there when you get back.

I’m not saying “replace work time with fun time” or “procrastinating is fine” or “don’t do your work.” It’s necessary. It’s why we’re here. And come on! We love it even though it drives us crazy some days!

I’m saying that this wonderful journey that we are on is one, very full and demanding aspect of our lives, and while it is very important, it is not our whole life. Take care of, and enjoy your whole life. Your whole self.

Right. That’s enough from me. Go forth and research, my friends! (but DO take a break now and again).

Want to know more?

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