0

10 Tips for Success & Self-Care for Academics

cozy-dog

Another guilt trip about the importance of self care and being successful? That is why many people will read blog posts like this. We know we should be practising self care and succeeding, but do we really know how to thrive?

(I could not find a concept analysis for either success or self care – please let me know if you do)

We must presume that both success and self-care mean something different to each and every one of us. I am no expert on these topics…. is anyone?…But I think I am pretty good at caring for myself now and working towards success…having learnt the hard way. So I thought I would share some of my hints and tips. Feel free to adapt them, use them, completely ignore them, or ridicule them as ‘poppycock’.

Most people will expect to hear things like:

  • Take a bubble bath
  • Watch your favorite film
  • Curl up with a good book
  • Work hard
  • Network

But I am sure that you know about this kind of stuff already. So let’s look at self care and success for the academic, firstly by identifying the issues that some of us may face.

As an early career researcher, I am frequently told about the stereotyping and inequalities experienced by women in academia. I myself frequently worry about the insecurity of, and problems associated with being an early career researcher, especially a female one.…I worry about where I will find my next job, funding or co-author. I worry about whether I am making any impact at all and whether I will be able to reach my true potential as an academic in the current climate. Academic pressures are in no way restricted to those earlier in their career, many more established researchers are also feeling the strain. These experiences will undoubtedly result in some psychological distress for many academics. So what can we do both proactively and preventatively to improve the lives of ourselves and each other.

Research can seem like a lot of hard work for little reward.

Tip One: Keep your eye on the goal. Visualize yourself being happy, frequently. How would it feel to publish that paper? Get that fellowship? Collaborate on that project? Create your own self-fulfilling prophecy rather than focus on a possible spiral of doom.

How to do this? – Identify what makes you happy, or what will make you happy. Then do more of what makes you happy, or have a real go at getting what will make you happy. I personally love my research work. I know that many other academics feel the same way. Happiness to me is succeeding, making a difference  and making a real impact through my work. The stress I feel is associated with this not happening.

This stress and negative thinking serves no purpose unless it positively drives me towards my goal. Yet who wants to be whipped to the goal posts?  I use visualization as a driver for success. I see myself feeling and being the way I want to be…and I allow myself to believe that this vision will come true. This makes me much happier than thinking about the alternative. So I stick with it.

The practice of meditation may also assist you to work through your thoughts, direct them towards a more positive outlook and allow your goals to become meaningful and achievable.

As these tips continue, think about your own goals for happiness…whatever they may be…think about achieving them in relation to these tips and your own experiences.

I behave in the way I want to feel or be… Surely if I continue in this direction. Good things will come…

Tip Two: The problem of job insecurity for early career academics baffles me as Job security for early career researchers is a significant factor in helping research make an impact. Yet this seems to play on my mind recurrently. It is always a worry. However, worry really does nothing to resolve this issue, and only seeks to get in the way of my progress. In order to progress, I will need to ‘work smarter’ and embrace confidence in my own abilities. Worry and negative thinking has no place in this strategy.

Negative thoughts often lie, and so I swipe them away one by one by placing them on a train that is passing the station (Visualization) – I then sit for a little longer, and imagine the way I will feel and be once I reach my goals. My mood and stress instantly lifts once I do this. I am more confident and feel much stronger. I am ready to be happy.

 

Tip 3: Say No and be proactive – We need to look at what successful academics do. From my observations, they often say ‘No’ to anything that doesn’t suit their own focused agenda (they remove the ‘noise’ and toxicity), they ooze positivity, they are confident, they are assertive, they tell people what they need to succeed and they hang around with the most inspiring people. Therefore, the most obvious strategy is for us to do the same. Say ‘No’ to negativity, and to the people and things which do not enrich us as people. Let people know what you need in order to thrive. Embrace those you feel drawn towards as positive people.

Activity: Making the best of me…

1: Ask yourself how others can get the best out of you

2: Offer what you can realistically do

3: Communicate what inhibits your productivity with others

4: Actively describe what you need from others in order to thrive

Getting the best of me

Tip 4: Express gratitude and forgiveness for enhanced wellbeing. Not always easy, but worth investing in. This task not only unburdens your mind, but allows you to see all of the good things currently going on in your life. Regularly write down 5 things that you are grateful for. Also…try to forgive yourself, and others…often.

 

Tip 5: Address your work life balance as a fluid entity. I believe that the idea of a separate home and work life is changing. This is a good thing. It takes the pressure off and allows you to be a whole person, rather than one split in two…See yourself as a whole being, a working, living and family centred being. You cannot slice yourself into pieces.

See this blog -> ‘Work’ is a verb rather than a noun…it is something we do…not always somewhere we go…

Living in the ‘now’ rather than being at either home or work also allows us to enjoy more of ourselves and our lives. Notice where you are, what you are doing…Smell the flowers, look around you as you move, work, play and just allow yourself to ‘be’.

smell-the-flowers

Tip 6: Eat Sleep move, repeat. It really is that simple, but utterly essential for optimum productivity, stress reduction, health and wellbeing. Eat nutritious food regularly, sleep 7-8 hours a night and move…Exercise, walk, swim, run, cycle…Be outdoors as often as possible.

float

Tip 7: Write. Write your thoughts, your feelings, your ‘to do’ lists, your ideas, your goals down regularly. This not only means that they are out of your head, allowing your mind to be quieter, they are also made real…They are good to share..and worth addressing (when you feel able).

Tip 8: Talk about who you are. There is a tendency to talk about work first. What we do, what we are working on and what we are planning to work on. Start new conversations with how you enjoy your hobbies or your favourite music. This lets other people know that you are indeed human, and it also gives you an identity other than your work persona. Be authentic. It is healthy for you, and others to know the real and whole you. You are fab 🙂

Tip 9: Help other people and accept help yourself. Lift one another up, support colleagues, show gratitude, offer support and guidance where you can. Be a mentor. Be a positive role model. Be the change you want to see in the workplace and accept all of this in return. This will not only make you feel good, it will change the culture of your workplace, and bring about reciprocity for everyone’s success.

LiftEachotherUp_libbyvanderploeg

(Image via http://www.libbyvanderploeg.com/#/lifteachotherup/)

Tip 10: Celebrate the successes of yourself and others. Yes. Focus on the great things that you and your colleagues have achieved. However big or small, these feelings of success will snowball into a self fulfilling prophecy, where you feel valued, supported and part of a team that cares. Some people will feel uncomfortable about doing this, and feel icky when they see others wallow in their own brilliance. But what is the alternative? We all talk about how rubbish we all are? How will that make us feel?…

Spend time reflecting on what you have achieved. Write them down…use these achievements to inform your own vision of yourself…This is who you are. You are great.

As long as the feelings of celebration and success are reciprocated and directed towards others as well as yourself….Let the high fives roll.

Image result for the highest of fives gif

I do hope that these tips will resonate with some academics looking for something new to try. In the spirit of sharing, please feel free to add more tips below.

You deserve to be happy – Until next time, look after yourselves and each other ❤💙💜

 

Advertisements
3

Why Midwifery and Nursing Students Should Publish their Work and How

Both midwifery and nursing students do wonderful work. Here, I am referring to ‘the student’ as any nurse or midwife who is currently enrolled in a postgraduate course, as well as those aspiring to be and working towards becoming nurses and/or midwives.

Students have a unique perspective on things, which those in academia or teaching may not be privy to. As such, any contribution from the student groups is a valuable one.

I generally hold the belief that if you are doing something worthwhile, you should share it. Throughout your student journey, you are learning things which generally, other people know about. However, when you are doing your literature review/thesis or dissertation, you are (or should be) contributing to new knowledge.

Image result for publishing

Students often say to me “I have never published before, and I am ‘only’ a student”…. Never think that your contributions hold no value. No doubt they will be valuable to the whole midwifery community, because your insights invariably are.

Also….we need more midwives and nurses to join the academic community!

Nobody can know everything, and nobody can conduct all of the literature reviews that need to be done (and these are always of great value to the nursing and midwifery communities as a whole)! As such, your new and original contributions are highly valuable. You also worked really hard on them!

So…Why not share your work through publication?…How will your new knowledge ever be widely shared among those looking to discover new knowledge and learn if you don’t?

Image result for publishing

So how can I publish my work?

Firstly, what do academic journals publish?

  • Opinion pieces
  • Literature reviews
  • Summary papers
  • Original research projects

These are the most common things that journals publish, and also the most likely things you will be working on. So think about how your work stands out, how is it original? If it is similar to another paper…are you building on what has previously been found? Try to look on Google Scholar initially to see what has already been published in your area of interest.

You should be referencing widely as a student (Not Heat Magazine, but high quality papers!)…Look at your reference lists – what have these authors published? in which journals? This activity may guide you to the kind of thing you might want to publish and where.

COLLABORATE – Ask one of your tutors or another academic midwife in a similar field to co-author a paper with you. This may mean that you can gain some valuable mentorship from another nurse/midwife, and also strengthen your paper with new ideas and a ‘fresh eyes’ approach. They may also have published papers before, and so can guide you in the right direction.

Image result for collaborate

Where should I publish my work?

As you may be fairly early on in your quest to journey down the publishing path… you may want to begin with some widely read and frequently published journals such as:

  • The British Journal of Midwifery
  • The Nursing Times
  • Midirs
  • The British Journal of Nursing
  • The practising midwife
  • The Nursing Standard

However, you may also want to aim for more international journals, and publish elsewhere. This website is very good at helping you to find the right journal for your paper.

The journal Impact Factor is the average number of times articles from the journal published in the past two years have been cited in the JCR year. The Impact Factor is calculated by dividing the number of citations in the JCR year by the total number of articles published in the two previous years.

Journal Rank (SJR indicator) is a measure of scientific influence of scholarly journals that accounts for both the number of citations received by a journal and the importance or prestige of the journals where such citations come from.

Image result for impact

Once you find the journal you would like to publish in…read their own explanation of what they want to publish – they will often say what they are looking for, or have a call for a specific research topic they have coming up. This may mean that you could contribute towards a special journal issue on a shared topic/theme.

Check out what they have published over the last few months… does it resemble the kind of paper you are trying to publish? Could you model your own paper to emulate the kind of things that are already being published..makes sense right?

Then…. When we have read our paper many times over with ‘fresh eyes’, we make our final edits in partnership with our co-authors….and submit!..

But what’s the process for doing this?

Image result for academic publishing process flow chart

In my experience, the journey from submission to publication usually takes around 3-4 months (Make sure to submit any revisions ASAP)!

I’m Published….what now?

Let the world know! – Share share share! This was the whole reason you published your work… so that others could read and learn about what you found. Your paper is important!…People will want to read it. Blog about it, share it via social media and email it to your professional colleagues. See my advice on using social media here.

You are looking for impact. Once you are published, you may want to track your Altmetrics score. Remember to add the paper to Linkedin, Research gate and academia.edu where people can find your work more easily…

Image result for altmetrics

The publishing journey is certainly an emotional and professional roller coaster where rejections can wound and successes can be truly empowering! Try to enjoy the peer review process as a positive thing. Any criticism and reflection will only make your paper better in the long run – don’t despair…it is rare to get papers accepted for publication without any revisions at all!

 It will all be worth it in the end I promise!…and if its not worth it…then its not the end..Good Luck!

Until next time…Look after yourselves, and each other! 💛💙💜💚

0

Feeling a Little Tense? A guide for Student Midwives and Student Nurses on Grammatical Writing Styles – Essay Tips

 

There are a few questions I get asked by students on ‘The Grammatical Person…’

  • Which tense should I write in?
  • Should I write in the first person?
  • How do I get an A grade in my student essay?

So I thought I would write a short blog on this topic – I hope it may be of help to some people. However, I do not claim to be a grammatical ninja…so please do consult with your own tutors and refer to your own university guidelines and learning outcomes for a more personalised approach.

Image result for grammar

The Basics

Who is speaking in your essay? If it is an informal reflection, a diary or a blog, it will generally be your voice that we want to hear (first person). Speaking in the second person voice usually works well for advertising or promotional materials, however, it rarely becomes a feature in academia. Writing in the third person is usually the most scientific way of writing things… and so

  • the person speaking (first person)
  • the person listening or being spoken to (second person)
  • the person being spoken about (third person)
First Person

 

Subjective Case Objective Case Possessive Case
I, we Me, us My/mine/our/ours
Second Person you you You/yours
Third person (Singular) he (masculine)

she (feminine)

it (neuter)

him (masculine)

her (feminine)

it (neuter)

his/his (masculine)

her/hers (feminine)

its/its (neuter)

Third person (plural) They Them Their/theirs/his/hers

There are four present tense forms in English:

Tense Form
Present simple: I work
Present continuous: I am working
Present perfect: I have worked
Present perfect continuous: I have been working

Image result for grammar

So what about the student midwife’s or student nurse’s essay?

Well..Think of your essay/thesis/dissertation/research as a person/thing.

What is it going to do? What has it done? What is it doing?

Examples:

Introduction – “This essay will describe and explore the various factors relating to the experience of women during the postnatal period”

Background – “The literature suggests that new mothers find it hard to bond with their babies where they experience a lack of compassion from those around them (references)”

Methodology – “This research firstly looked to explore the literature in relation to wound healing in diabetics. It did this by ….”

Results – “The research data collected within this research via a series of qualitative interviews highlights that midwives feel better able to communicate with doctors if the doctors are nice to them. These midwives also became better practitioners as they communicated with each other more effectively”

Discussion – “It is interesting to note that the results presented within this research suggest that home birth is a less safe option for childbearing women, as many of these studies fail to look at home birth in the wider context and only focus upon…”

Conclusion – “This dissertation has outlined 32 interventions which assist medication adherence in patient groups who are reported to experience symptoms of poor mental health.”

Reflection – “Throughout the process of writing this essay, I found it refreshing to discover how I could enhance my critical thinking by synthesizing the results of my research in line with the findings presented. As a nurse, I have previously only tried to interpret the literature thematically, and so in taking this new approach, I have now been able to develop my skills.”

Do you see?… as the essay progresses…so does the past and present tense. Additionally, the research/essay/dissertation remains to be a separate entity from the writer. This is how most scientific papers are written. Only within the reflective section has the writer referred to themselves (this may be required for some essays, but generally not in scientific papers).

 

Lastly:

Image result for grammar

I hope this will help some students to clarify how they would like to present their work.

See my 15 Top Essay Writing Tips for Midwifery and Nursing Students here

Also…

See my guide to literature reviewing here

Until next time – Look after yourselves and each other 💛💙💜💚