By Nudrat Siddiqui
Most careers, no matter how enjoyable or stimulating, present periods that are stressful. Coupled with the complexities of our personal lives, this can often lead us down a tunnel of self-doubt and low mood. The world of academia is no exception to this phenomenon. The issues you face might not have an immediate, overnight fix, but there are small, basic steps that you can take to shift into a more positive frame of mind and gain perspective on how to tackle these challenges.
Reach Out to Others
As run-of-the-mill as it sounds, repeated research has shown that positive and fulfilling interactions and relationships can boost our sense of worth and wellbeing. Conducting research can be a lonely business with the long hours spent working in solitude in libraries or alongside the same team of people in labs. The number of experiments or book pages that require your attention might seem interminable, but structure in time in your diary to engage in a social activity on a weekly basis. Treat it like an immovable meeting, as it’s easy for plans in our personal lives to get shelved as we give precedence to work commitments.
Is there a hobby or activity that you’ve been considering pursuing? Take a class or join a group that engages in it and forge new contacts along the way. The Modern Language Centre offers lunchtime, evening, and weekend classes on 23 different languages that are discounted for staff. Put your vocal cords and writing abilities to the test by joining King’s Staff Choir and King’s Staff Writing Group, VIP Wordsmiths.
For the occasions when you don’t feel up to venturing outside to connect with others, join an online community such as EleFriends, which is run by mental health charity, Mind, to share experiences and gain support virtually.
Learn Resilience Techniques
Invest time in learning skills and techniques from professionals to buffer challenges. To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, the Centre for Research Staff Development is running courses throughout the month of May to equip you with practical skills to beat various hurdles, from Imposter Phenomenon to excessive workloads. Don’t forget that you are entitled to take ten days of professional and personal development training per year.
Transiently distancing ourselves from our problems and contributing some of our time and talents into a cause that helps others can be enormously motivating and fulfilling, while also offering a space in which to meet others and reassess how we perceive our own issues. Explore volunteering opportunities around London here.
Sometimes the spike in adrenaline that comes with sports and fitness activities can go a long way in helping us feel more positive about certain situations. Slot in regular time to play a sport or work out. If you’re not sure about what the best fitness activity for you is, sample some of the free fitness classes that King’s Sport is running this month on a range of sports from jujitsu to Pilates.
If you’ve tried all these things and your low mood still persists, don’t hesitate to seek professional help by engaging with the Employee Assistance Programme, King’s Counselling or speaking to your GP. A healthy and happy mind will put you in good stead to face whatever comes your way.