Addicted to our desks? Part 2.

Hello again. In my last post I introduced a new three-part series dedicated to understanding and tackling work addiction and spent some time outlining workaholism, the challenges of overcoming it and some warning signs.

This time I’m going to dive a little deeper, and invite you to question some of your beliefs surrounding the way you approach work, what you might be gaining from work and how to start to change your prospective. These are only my experiences and my suggestions, there are undoubtedly a number of ways to approach this. I’d invite you to share your experiences if you have any, or to challenge any of the points I make.

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Addicted to our desks?

When I look around me I see that it is becoming more and more acceptable to work long hours, evenings, weekends and for work to ‘take over’ our lives, often to the detriment of our health and well-being.

I see this so frequently in academia, in my fellow PhD students and in the academics I meet. People often joke with each other about being a workaholic and it has become somewhat of a status symbol, but for some of us it is a real addiction, and a very challenging one at that.

Yes, I consider myself a recovering workaholic.

I’m certainly a work (!) in progress, but I feel like I’ve come a long way in the last few years and am able to manage my work addiction. It is something I feel strongly about and I want to share some of what I have learnt. This post is the first in a series that will focus on breaking the habit of working compulsively. I’m going to dismantle the concept of workaholism and share some of the things that have helped me to restore balance.

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Creativity for the sake of creativity

Hello! I am seven days post conference in (very) sunny Seville and am right back into the swing of things. I was once again reminded during my week away of the importance of stepping out of routine and day-to-day life once in a while to get inspiration and creative juices flowing. And talking of creative juices, that’s what I want to talk to you about today.

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When things suck

We all have times in our lives when things just suck. When things aren’t going quite as we would have hoped personally and yet we still have a job to do – we still have to get our PhD’s. The pressure of this can become exceedingly clear when personal issues crop up and it can add to the difficulties we are facing.Sometimes we can do things to overcome the hard times, sometimes it’s just a case of making the ride a little gentler. Rather than burying our heads in the sand, which can be oh so tempting, there are ways we can make life easier for ourselves. There are steps we can take and things we can do that enable us to feel supported, and most importantly, to take the pressure off whilst we find our feet again. It is inevitable that during the course of a three-year PhD personal issues will come along, but they don’t have to mean the end of your doctoral pursuit and in fact, could help you find a new way of doing things that will help you in the future. Here are some of the things that help me when things suck.

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When Anxiety comes knocking…

I know I’m not the only one that struggles with anxiety, in life in general and when it comes to doing a PhD. Though not many of us share the realities of going about daily life feeling worried, concerned or like our hearts might jump out of our chest. Sometimes knowing exactly why, other times not having a clue, just knowing there is this sense of impending doom that you just can’t quite put your finger on.

First of all, the anxiety I am personally talking about here is that feeling of worry, bordering on panic, feeling sped up and like there isn’t enough time to do everything. Shallow breathing, heart pounding just a little quicker and perhaps feeling unusually warm. A brick in your chest, a lump in your throat and your stomach doing somersaults. The anxiety where your mind spirals and decides to show you the low-lights reel. The what if’s and the worst case scenarios. Perhaps you can relate? With practice, these feeling states can be noticed, before you fall too far down the rabbit hole. And the point of noticing, the point of awareness is really the beginning of getting to the bottom of things.

I thought I’d share some of my go-to’s for when I’m feeling anxious.

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National Stress Awareness Day

You may or may not be aware that it’s National Stress Awareness Day today, a day founded by ISMA (International Stress Management Association).

It’s not a long post today, but I just wanted to bring the day to your attention. To maybe provide a prompt for you to look inwards and see if there are any situations or areas in your life that could use a little stress awareness. It doesn’t have to be hard work, it doesn’t have to involve ‘doing’ anything to fix it, just bringing your attention to where you might be feeling a bit over stretched can work wonders. Becoming aware is the first step to allowing things to change or improve.

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Playing it cool…

A very dear friend of mine recently started a Masters in Psychology. I’ve had the chance to find out more about the course and chat over some of the module content. My friend and I are quite an enthusiastic pair in general and I think we both have a healthy dose of optimism and are always looking for the positive in situations. So it’s not really any surprise that I’ve found myself really enjoying talking about research and psychology. Even to the point of hashing over research paradigms and philosophy over dinner! To some people this might seem ‘uncool’. But we’re both enthusiastic about these things – we wouldn’t be committing years of our lives to studying it otherwise! What would be the point?

But these conversations have really made me realise how ‘playing it cool’ is seriously, seriously uncool. If you’re enthusiastic or excited about something, why hide it? Why squash it down, feign disinterest and deny yourself the joy or fun you could have?

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