As postgraduate students, I think it’s often incredibly easy to forget to take time out for ourselves.
There’s always the next section of your thesis to write, the next research proposal to put together (because we’re always having to think two-steps ahead when it comes to our careers), or the next funding application to make.
It’s a lot, and sometimes the deadlines just get you bogged down in an unending stream of open tabs on various devices. However, as much as our studies and research are important, it’s just as critical to give ourselves a little TLC and save some time for rest and recuperation.
So, how do we get that much-needed shot of relaxation? It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation, and some things will work better than others for different people. However, there are some ideas that are generally thought to help, so see below for our top tips for getting that feeling of total zen.
Stock up on some extra zzzz
It seems like an obvious one, but the sleeping hours are when your body is recovering from the efforts of the day and supercharging you for the day ahead. Take advantage of the working from home situation and give yourself an extra half hour in the morning, or indulge in a little afternoon siesta. Anthropological studies have shown that such biphasic sleeping (two sleeps in the day, spaced out) can leave you feeling more energised and perhaps might even lead to a longer life.
Practice mindful meditation
The goal of mindful meditation is to focus your attention on things that are happening right this minute. Take a short break and listen to your body. Consider your breathing: is it fast, slow, deep, or shallow? Pay attention to your surroundings: what background noises do you hear? The idea is just to observe what is happening in the moment without trying to change it. If you’re technologically-inclined, you might find checking out a mediation app like Headspace or Medito useful.
Get outside and get some fresh air
A change of surroundings and the wind in your hair might be just what you need. If the British weather holds out, you may even feel the sun on your face! Some gentle exercise like a walk or a jog will get you out from behind the desk and moving, releasing those endorphins and helping you feel better.
Do something that makes you happy
The book you’ve been meaning to read that has nothing to do with your studies? Read it. The craving for home baked bread you’ve been having lately? Get that dough baby cooking. Big or small, if it’s something that puts a smile on your face, then it’s worth doing. Everyone deserves a little time spent simply in service of the things they love to do.
Whichever way you go about it, make time to rest both body and mind, especially in the stressful times we’re living in. And if you have any ideas that you’d like to share with your fellow students, then please do let us know in the comments!