I’m stepping away from the mental health focussed posts for a few weeks to bring you a new ‘conference series’. The plan is to help with decisions around presenting at conferences and to also provide handy guides to producing presentations that will help you communicate your work as succinctly and professionally as possible. Of course, I can’t completely step away from the self-care approach to studies, so this week’s post, which helps you decide between either a poster presentation or an oral presentation offers practical considerations but also personal factors to take into account in order to do what is right for you. I hope you enjoy this new series!
It’s self-care week! This campaign is led by the Self Care Forum and the NHS have got on board too. The focus of this week is about empowering ourselves to look after our health and to take steps that might reduce our chances of needing medical intervention later down the line. Self-care can operate on so many levels and can mean different things for different people depending on their lives and the things they might be facing at a particular moment in time. Today I wanted to share something that has been really important for me in my self-care journey (it really has, and continues to be, a journey…!), that is non-negotiables.
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.
I’ve done a lot of personal work on the self-care front over the last few years and am experiencing the benefits of doing so. In fact, my lack of blogging over the last few weeks are simply down to needing some time to myself. However a recent experience got me thinking about other areas of my life where self-care might be lacking. In particular, the area of conducting research and having contact with participants.
Ethical guidelines and standards aim to ensure that participants are protected during the research process, but can the same be said for the researcher themselves? The researcher is coming into contact with other people, and in some instances, particularly psychology, some really sensitive and emotive topics might be covered.
When I was developing my ethics proposal I thought a lot about reducing any possible distress for my participants and making sure that I did not cause any harm. I did think of myself in amongst this ethical application, but on a very matter of fact physical level. My recent experience has made me consider other factors, mental and emotional, that perhaps need to be taken into account. As a result of all this thinking and considering, I’ve developed myself a bit of a tool kit which will hopefully help me in the future to manage any potentially difficult situations in the moment and afterwards.