Your year of treats

We’ve reached the end of January and you may want to take time to look over all you’ve got done with #ResearcherRenew and give yourself credit for investing in yourself.

Your task today is the nicest of the lot. It’s to think of all the things you might like to do to reward yourself for getting work done.

These could be small prizes you give yourself throughout the day (a breakfast of fruit, cereal or freshly made pancakes; a refreshing drink mid-morning; a packed lunch with your favourite sandwiches that you eat in the park). Or something that you work towards for bigger achievements (a piece of art or jewellery; books and stationery; a concert; holiday; a new lipstick; or an item of clothing).

Continue to do those thank you notes, and give yourself lots of TLC and praise. You might also want to write a ‘reward journal’ where you note something pleasant to give yourself every day/week. Or schedule alerts to remind yourself to do something kind – to you.

If you found this difficult

As we continue to live with the impact of Covid-19, we may feel guilty for rewarding ourselves when other people are struggling, or if we’re coping with grief.  Pandemic restrictions may also mean the things we’d previously used to motivate ourselves or enrich our lives are simply not possible.  Things that previously might have been a treat (for example a quiet evening watching Netflix) have become our everyday, and their positive effects worn off.  You may also rightly question whether ‘rewards’ of daily needs (food, rest, bathing etc) should be made into ‘treats’. Flexibility may be required to identify new ways to experience happiness, perhaps pushing you outside your comfort zone or accepting some things may be poorer substitutes than pre-pandemic pleasures, but will nevertheless be better than nothing. Finding joy in the smallest of things may be more realistic, for now.

Imagine you were taking care of a dear friend. It’s often easier to think about how we’d assist someone we love than looking after ourselves (there is a lot more advice on ways to practice self-care for you and others in Being Well In Academia – particularly Chapter 3). What treats would you give to someone you care for? Note those, then apply them to yourself.

All of the challenges in #ResearcherRenew are designed to carry on across the year, and if any in particular helped you feel stronger or happier make a point of continuing with those.  And you can keep in touch with me on Twitter and Instagram for regular updates on research skills, self care, rights and wellbeing. I’d love to hear how you’ve taken the ideas we’ve tried this January, made them your own, or developed and improved them. Throughout the pandemic I’m also using the hashtag #COVIDCompanions to share uplifting and funny stories every day.

And now you’re ready. Time to step into the year with confidence and pride. There may be difficulties during the year, but you’re okay. You got this.

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