Like many people, my sense of resilience against the chaos of our world feels increasingly frayed. Anyone else just feel perpetually burnt out? Cause I do! When our minds are consumed by what this pandemic has done — and undone, such as hiccups in research programs, cut or lost funding or employment status, and an abrupt transition to e-learning — it doesn't really have time to stop and think about how we can better take care of ourselves.
Here are some tips to manage your mental health and well-being during your academic journey that have been suggested repeatedly in my circles. These tips are relevant both during the pandemic and outside of it.
Know your red flags
Before we start to spiral downwards, our body gives us warning signals or red flags through thoughts ("Why is it so hard for me to stay focused?"), feelings (frustration, worry, sadness), physical triggers (upset stomach, tense muscles, headaches), and ticks (compulsively checking texts or emails for bad news). By being able to identify these symptoms and managing them before it snowballs into something worse, you can help yourself in the long run.
set a routine
By setting up a schedule for your day, you can help keep anxiety at bay by knowing what your day (or week) ahead looks like. Make sure to create a clear distinction between work and non-work time, ideally in both a physical and head space. And don't forget to schedule breaks (and joy) in there!
manage your expectations
In a pandemic, there is much we cannot control right now. Our capacity to work has been severely diminished due to the trauma we have all collectively faced over the last two years. Our best today is not the same level of "best" we were back in 2019. So in moments of feeling overwhelmed - when all you can think is “I cannot do this,” or “This is too hard” - be kind to yourself.
take care of yourself, physically
You cannot have one without the other: a healthy mind also needs a healthy body. So make sure to have a balanced diet, get 7-8 hours of sleep, exercise weekly, and socialize with friends.
Don’t Wait Too Long to Get Help
Despite mental health being discussed more openly in today's society, many are still embarrassed to be dealing with mental health struggles. We need societal change for this (i.e. people not being ashamed to say, "Hey, I'm not okay") but be honest with yourself about your mental health. If you are in academia you might have access to health services available on campus, so take advantage of the counselors there. If you feel comfortable, you can even discuss what is going on with your advisor to see what they suggest.
Hi! I'm Melissa, an Australian-based Latina science educator, podcaster, and freelance writer. I spend a lot more time on Instagram and Twitter, but blogging is my first love. Thanks for stopping by — I hope you stay a while.
READ MY BOOKS
Some links on my blog may contain affiliate links. If you click and/or make a purchase through certain links on this site or any related social media platforms, I may make a commission (a small percentage) from that purchase.
Posts will only feature products I’ve purchased and will only recommend products I genuinely love. Please note that I can’t guarantee that you will love everything I recommend.