Balancing emotions and research during the ‘new normal’
Due to COVID-19 and following government guidelines, The University of Manchester suspended face-to-face teaching and closed non-essential facilities on campus. Since May 2020, staff and students have been working hard to try to keep up to date with research while having to confront unforeseen emotional, social, political, and economic changes. Discover what they have learned from the experience below.
As international postgraduate researchers, we are especially vulnerable to this situation. On the one hand, many of us relied on the University’s campus and events to fulfil our personal, social and physical wellbeing needs. On the other hand, we have to care for our families from the distance, while supporting our friends and peers here in the UK.
Whilst I do believe work can help overcome difficult times, unexpected factors such as anxiety, uncertainty, stress and fear affect our capacity to focus. Balancing our emotions is essential to keep our projects on track. After these few months of trying to adapt both research and emotions to the “new normal” there are few things that we have learned that we would like to share:
- We are experiencing unprecedented times; none of us is prepared to deal with this situation. Let’s be patient and tolerant with each other.
- It’s okay to experience mood changes or feel that the situation is sometimes completely overwhelming. The next day it is going to be better, I promise.
- Ask for help and share your feelings and concerns with others. If you feel emotionally stable, provide support for others, everyone needs a hand sometimes.
- Stay active and curious, the campus might be shut down, but the city is not. The City of Manchester has many things and places to explore.
- Lockdown can easily lead to self-isolation. Fortunately, webinars and zoom meeting can help us to stay connected with the people we love and establish new connections across the world.
- Managing uncertainty is one of the most challenging tasks. Try to concentrate on the present, perform only the tasks you feel, and postpone unnecessary worries.
- Most important, be kind to yourself and others. Consider that sometimes the best strategy to fight back extreme situations is to stop productivity in order to engage in practices of care, self-care and kindness much more needed at this time.