Researching your dissertation is the pinnacle of most university degrees. It’s when you apply everything you’ve learned in class towards a lasting piece of academic writing. However, thesis writing can be very taxing on your mental health. It’s often a time associated with immense pressure, high stress, panic and loneliness. For those of us dealing with mental illnesses like depression or anxiety, our symptoms can be exacerbated during this period if we don’t manage them well. Below, we’ll be discussing how to make the most of your research writing experience while balancing your mental health in the process.
Find something you’re passionate about
Deciding what to do your research on is a crucial step, as you’ll be stuck with the topic for the best part of an academic year. It helps to find a research topic you’re passionate about, because that will fuel you when things get tough. Studying something you love helps you tolerate challenging moments in your research like transcribing interviews or sifting through loads of data. Jess from The Extra Ounce deals with bipolar disorder and anxiety, and what helped her when she was writing her thesis was studying women’s football, a topic she’s always loved. People notice others who are doing things they’re passionate about and gravitate towards helping them. Choosing a topic you love will also help you find like-minded people you can gather support from.
Set working hours and prioritise sleep
We often put immense pressure on ourselves when we’re writing our thesis. We’re always worrying about the next deadline or stressing about reaching the necessary word count. Despite all this, Student Recipes reminds us of the importance of sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep helps us de-stress and face the next day refreshed. It might help you to set a deadline every night on how late you can work until, so you don’t end up typing away until the early hours of the morning. One of the best kept secrets when it comes to performing well in school while staying mentally healthy is getting enough Z’s.
Find outlets through hobbies and activities
Research writing can
be very consuming. It’s so easy to stay holed up in the library every day
working on your thesis, not being mindful of what’s going on around you. This
can lead to destructive tendencies and burnout. Try looking for outlets that
can take your mind off your research from time to time. Take the time to do a
favourite hobby like reading or playing a sport. Make time to see your friends
even if you feel like you’re too busy. Either of these can do wonders for your
motivation and stress levels.
Reach out to your thesis tutors
Your lecturers are there to help you, not scare you. In the article ‘New to University? Here are 5 Pointers to Get You Started’ mentions about the importance of getting to know your lecturers. It helps to make a personal connection with them because they can always guide you in times of hardship or confusion. If you feel comfortable enough, you might even be willing to tell your thesis tutor about your mental illness so they know what you’re dealing with. This also helps them understand how to support you and your work in the best possible way.
JBatchelor graduated from her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Ever since she was sixteen, she’s been dealing with depression. Her university life helped her develop ways to cope with her illness. She now works as a teaching assistant and has dreams of going back to school one day for her master’s degree.