When considering a career in the field of scholarly communications, there are a few important things to remember.
- No one likes being told what to do.
- People will be openly hostile about your ‘revolutionary’ ideas.
- You are your own support team.
Most of the time it’ll be worth it. It will be worth it when, because of your determined and persistent efforts, a faculty member changes their mind about open access. It will be worth it when a professor, unprompted, praises your institutional repository, your copyright knowledge, or your publishing platform.
There will be times, of course, when the struggle doesn’t seem worth it, when the institutionalized apathy you’ve been fighting against looms a bit larger than usual. These rough times can be difficult, as it can feel as if no one actually cares about what you do, what you’ve earned a degree in, what you feel strongly about.
And with a mental illness, these rough times can be debilitating.
As someone with depression and anxiety, my brain will often take one small part of my job that feels impossible and play it on a loop, like a terrible mix tape stuck in a car cassette player.
And this is when self-care becomes incredibly important.
Self-care refers to actions we can do that restore balance in our personal and professional lives, and it can also be a preventative tool to keep our mental illness manageable. Self-care can be anything we do that helps us feel better in a healthy way, whether that’s puzzles or mindfulness meditation or aggressive running. You do you.
Things I consider self-care in my life:
- Small indulgences. I keep my favorite kind of tea on hand in my office, with sugar and cream nearby. I will also sometimes grab a bagel from the coffee shop if I need extra deliciousness in my day.
- I keep a small coloring book with colored pencils nearby in case of anxiety emergencies. I know the adult coloring book fad can be kind of annoying to some people, but research has shown that coloring pretty pictures of trees and flowers actually makes you feel better and calms you down. Just like watching cat videos.
- Short walks outside. I often take 10 minutes to walk around the arboretum when my stress levels get too high. I have also been known to practice public speaking with the trees. They’re a very non-judgmental audience.
- Exercise can do wonders for mental health. For a long time I was able to spend my lunch breaks at the gym, which always improved my mood. Just try going to a Zumba class and not smiling! My university has a great drop-in wellness program, and I’d encourage you to see what your university offers. But even just a simple 5-minute yoga routine could help, and you can do that in your office.