Frequently asked questions regarding student support.
I am stressed/anxious about the COVID-19 pandemic, what support services are available?
The University’s priority is the health, safety, wellbeing and academic success of its students and staff. The University has compiled extensive information and resources to support you in these extraordinary times. There are extensive resources available on the on the Wellbeing Hub website including tips on dealing with anxiety and natural disasters. In addition, the University is offering one to one free and confidential counselling appointments via Zoom and telephone. For further information and to register for an appointment, please visit the counselling website.
How do I concentrate and stay motivated?
- Break things down into smaller chunks or units and work for shorter periods of time.
- Try to plan work times when you have the most energy rather than when you feel you should work
- If you can, plan tasks that require more concentration at the start of the day.
- Make a list of the tasks and check them off as you go to mark progress. Start small with the option to add more rather than starting large and not completing.
- Reward yourself with little things to acknowledge your efforts.
- Write down why this research matters to you and what kind of researcher you want to be? Connecting with our intrinsic motivation (why we are doing this for ourselves) can help get back on track
- Reduce expectations around consistency. It’s OK to make good progress 1 day and not the next.
- Widen our definition of productivity – maybe shopping for a family member or playing with the kids is a really important part of that day’s productivity.
- Connect with your colleagues. Some people have set up slack boards where colleagues can make social posts separate to research matters. Or schedule a daily zoom hang out/catch up with your office mates.
Useful article: Opinion, Redefining productivity in the age of COVID-19
How do I navigate the middle ground between balance and productivity?
How do I approach my supervisor if I’m struggling or feeling anxious about my progress?
- So how do we feel most comfortable making contact within the confines of our situations? Email is often good because it allows us time to think but time can be a barrier to connecting.
- Is there someone at home that can prompt you to hit send?
- Focus on the primary goal – letting your supervisor know how you are now and what you need. Reframe your rationale - keeping a record of your progress will really help if you need to apply for an extension.
- Ask yourself, what are 3 possible outcomes from making contact and how will I deal with them?
- Take some deep breaths, press your feet into the ground, hit send then move to a different activity.
- Reflect on the positives associated with asking for help – things can start to change.
What resources are available to support my wellbeing and help me deal with stress?
- There is no perfect tip, technique or resource. What is causing you the biggest headache and search “evidence based tips” for that issue to help you pick a technique to move forward with.
- Keep it simple and do it often – develop “tiny habits” (BJ Fogg)
- Do what works for you
Useful resource: Wellbeing Hub
Useful article: How early career scientists are coping: COVID-19 challenges and fears
How do I break the cycle of lowered productivity?
Try to focus on what you can control in the situation. We don’t always get to choose the situations we face, we only get to choose how we react to them. Think about how you would like to react, the kind of person you want to be in the face of this challenge and try to let this inform your next action. See the tips related to motivation as these are also useful. Try to treat each day as a separate entity and ask yourself, “What can I achieve in the next 5 minutes that takes me towards my goal?”
How do I maintain some boundaries between work and family life?
Try to set up a work space. If this isn’t possible, try to pack away your work items at the end of every day to signal the move from work to family. This is a great time to think about exploring mindfulness meditation. It can help us to move from one mind set to another thus helping us to unhook ourselves from stress. Be kind to ourselves during this time. It’s OK to not get things right or to ask for some undisturbed time if a partner can help with looking after children. Think about some workable time slots and be flexible with yourself when things don’t go to plan.
How do I deal with procrastination?
Q&A session for HDR students with the Counselling Service on the topic of wellbeing, held 1 May 2020