Staying afloat during difficult times
Those you who follow my blog up close will remember that I am going through a difficult time after a number of health issues and the death of my mother. Yet, life goes on, classes need to be taught, and deliverables need to be presented. So, while I haven’t been thriving these past months, I have managed to stay afloat.
Before I share with you what has worked for me to stay afloat, I want to mention here that if you can’t stay afloat in difficult times, I understand. I hope you get the support you need, and get the time necessary to heal before you continue.
The following few things have helped me stay afloat in these difficult times:
- Tell colleagues: Let your colleagues know what you are going through, and you will see that they will step in for you where necessary. My colleagues knew about half a year before my mother’s passing that her health was getting worse, and when I needed to travel to be with her, they took my place in meetings.
- Lower the bar, and lower it some more: This season in life is not the one to attack those big goals. The focus is on just making it through this season in life – that in itself is already enough. My goals for 2022 are modest, I just want to be doing what is good enough and see if I can catch up on all the pending tasks.
- Acknowledge the difficulty: Don’t pretend to yourself or to others that things are fine when you are gong through a difficult time. Sometimes, it is difficult to come to terms with the fact that hard times have reached our life, but ignoring the situation will only make it worse.
- Say no: Offload whatever you can. Leave committees. Decline invitations to review. Don’t travel to those conferences you feel obliged to attend. Just lay low for a while.
- Find what brings consolation: Find what brings consolation – and know that it may be different from what you usually enjoy doing in your spare time. Listen to yourself, and find the activities and rest that bring you consolation. It may be certain songs, photographs, or soothing activities that you want to focus on now.
- Get the support you need: Know that you are not alone. Whether you find others who are facing the same ordeal as you, or get supported with a therapist, there are various ways in which you can get the support you need to get through these difficult times.
Have you face a particularly difficult time in the past? What did you do to stay afloat?
I am so sorry for your loss. I have been a long time follower and have found your blog so helpful as a PhD student.
Here is what I did to stay afloat when I was experiencing grief: https://voicesofacademia.com/2020/06/18/grief-and-a-phd-a-personal-journey-by-jasmine-schipp/
Very similar advice to what you have here, these are great tips and very thoughtful of you to share with others.
Thank you for writing to me, Jasmine, and I’m very sorry for your loss. It’s been 5 months now, and not all paperwork is settled yet – I recognize what you wrote about all the administrative aspects taking a lot of time (and mental effort).