An honest and vulnerable share…

Yes, this is my second post in as many days.

I sat down to write this post late last night after having dinner with a friend and only a few hours after my last post – which was all about non-negotiables and self-care. It feels kind of ironic in a way.

I was unsure whether to publish this post, but I decided to, and sooner rather than later – before I changed my mind. Because it’s always easier to talk about past struggles once they have been overcome and things are feeling better. It’s much more difficult and vulnerable to admit in the moment that things are hard.

I decided to post this because I am a huge advocate for mental health and I am always banging on about how important it is to share our difficult and challenging experiences in order for them to become accepted and so that we can know we are not alone – and I feel nervous about posting this. I feel like maybe I shouldn’t. But that isn’t what I aspire to, I want an open conversation and I’m going to have it. I believe that it really should not be a big deal to say you are struggling or that you’ve lost your way.

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We’re all human in academia

This is not the post I had intended to write and send out this week, but nonetheless I felt inspired and like this was what wanted and needed to be shared on this occasion.

I recently requested for members of staff within a university department to complete an informal, anonymous online questionnaire about their experiences with mental health, both during their own PhD studies and also now as an academic. What follows are some of the insights I have had as a result of being privy to these experiences, ultimately, we are all human and though we may put others on a pedestal, they too have their own issues and difficulties to manage and cope with.

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Is it ok to make people feel uncomfortable? 

This post has been inspired by two very different sources – but they have come together to form a post and a message that I would like to share. One about speaking our truth and being ok with making people feel uncomfortable. Read on to find out why I think the answer to the question, “is it ok to make people feel uncomfortable?” is yes, and why I think we should be actively seeking to do so.

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Breaking (it) down?

Hello again. Before starting this post I want to thank everyone for their great feedback and engagement with the ‘Addicted to our desks?’ series. It was a real pleasure to write and I’m so glad that it was well received and helpful. It’s great to hear from those of you who have implemented some of the tips. If you ever want to get in touch with me, you can do so here.

In this post I want to talk about break downs! Or perhaps more accurately, breaking things down. I’ve reached a point in my PhD where things are starting to get busy, one of those times where marking, data analysis and planning for my next study all seem to coincide – and it’s easy to start getting rather stressed and anxious about starting things.

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Addicted to our desks? Part 3.

Hello there. Welcome to the third and final part of my series about recovering from work addiction. In the first post I covered what work addiction is, what purpose it serves and some signs to look out for. My second post involved thinking about and tackling beliefs surrounding work, productivity and success. This final post will give you some practical skills and tips to start you on your way to seeking a more balanced approach to working. This is all very personal, and these are things that have helped me and others that I have spoken to you. Perhaps none of these tips will apply to you, in which case I encourage you to seek out somebody who might be able to help you put together your own tool kit to help you.

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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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Review: ‘The Science of Stress’ at The Royal Institution

A couple of weeks ago I attended an event at The Royal Institution in London called ‘The Science of Stress’. I probably wouldn’t have ventured to London mid-week if it hadn’t been for the fact that my supervisor Professor Julie Turner-Cobb was amongst the three experts presenting and then providing a question and answer panel session. It was great to support her and to see other individuals in the field present their work, and I was really glad that I went.

As someone who quite likes a bit of event management and organising an event, I was thinking on the train back to Bath, what makes a good panel event? Or any event for that matter? It really was a fantastic evening and I came away feeling enthused, excited, curious and impressed by all that I had heard. It was worth the journey to London and back.

So, what was it about this event that was so inspiring and excellent?

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