This year has been strange for all of us and unnerving in its constant uncertainty. I spent the majority of 2020 writing up my PhD thesis, which I submitted at the beginning of November. The process of writing up certainly did not pan out in the way I imagined with minimal library access and hardly any face-to-face interaction with my colleagues.
Yet for all the challenges that this year brought there is also plenty to be thankful for. Early on, a friend at a different university formed a remote writing group for those of us at a similar stage of our PhD journeys, which was not only incredibly beneficial in terms of receiving feedback on my work but also for providing some structure and scholarly interaction to the seemingly endless days of editing.
Running has always been important to me, but during the first lockdown I seemed to struggle to make time for exercise as the lack of usual boundaries around work allowed it to become somewhat all-consuming. As we entered a second lockdown, I realised that I need to give myself a schedule and goals that didn’t revolve around work to stop it inadvertantly eating up all my time and mental energy.
So this time around I’m aiming to run everyday in lockdown and am being joined virtually by a friend while we both train for a half marathon. Making a choice to run each day reminds me that there are some things that I can still control, including making good decisions for my physical and mental health, even while much of life is being restricted beyond my control at the moment.
As viva-anxiety begins to creep in, it also ensures I take a mental break from work, often enabling me to return to my research with a different perspective.