Many post-docs have said that they maintain their wellbeing and resilience mainly by using networks and talking to people. Others have highlighted that finding the right support network can be difficult. Sometimes, colleagues may be the best support because they have probably faced similar situations but in other situations, it may be useful to seek support around the university.
The University of Edinburgh has a range of campuses and services spread across the city. Therefore, it’s important that all researchers are aware of the wellbeing and resilience support systems in place. In this post, I’ll demonstrate some of these support systems around the university and how they have helped early career researchers.
- The chaplaincy is there for people of all faiths and none, so everyone is welcome. There are a number of chaplaincy locations spread across different campuses.
- Do you want to learn about mindfulness and ‘slow down’ your university experience?
- The chaplaincy holds a range of mindfulness events, including mindfulness courses , Tai Chi and yoga.
- Do you need someone to talk to for support?
- The Chaplaincy also runs pastoral support for staff. These sessions offer confidential and non-judgmental listening and support that can help to identify your talents and find methods to help you to focus on your work.
- Are you stressed? Being active can help you clear your thoughts and allow you to approach your problems more calmly. Some post-docs have also said that doing sport when they wouldn’t be productive (e.g. mid-afternoon) helps them to be more productive when they go back to the office/lab.
- There are gyms at Pleasance and King’s Buildings along with a range of centres across the city.
- The gyms offer a range of fitness courses and workshops, including Yoga and Pilates, to help combat stress.
- Since 2013, a Healthy University Project has been aiming to promote and deliver health and wellbeing benefits for the University community through the promotion of physical activity. A range of activities for staff have been ongoing as part of this.
Staff counselling service
- A range of self-help materials is available online, including websites and books.
- Eligible staff are offered short-term counselling to discuss problems or situations, which are causing concern or distress at work or home.
- From September 2017, all staff will gain access to The Big White Wall, a safe and anonymous online forum where staff can discuss their challenges and pressures and receive support from peers and trained professionals.
Research support office
- Have you received some rejections from funding applications? Not sure which funder would suit your project?
- Contact the research support office to help you with your application. They can ensure you are meeting all of the criteria for the funder and show you a range of successful applications so you know what the funder is expecting.
The Institute for Academic Development
- Want to improve your skills? Having trouble with writing?
- The IAD runs a range of workshops and courses allowing staff to develop skills in writing and management.
- Worried about becoming a supervisor or a Principal Investigator?
- The IAD offers a range of support for researchers who are managing teams and supervising researcher.
- Are you not sure about the next step of your career? Attending workshops or consultations at the Careers Service could help ease your worries and allow you to actively think about and strategically plan your career.
- Early Career Researchers are also encouraged to attend the PhD Horizons Career Conference. A range of people with PhDs (many of which have completed postdocs too) return to Edinburgh to discuss what they have done since and how.
- Do you want to get more involved in the community?
- Getting involved in staff societies will help you make networks with people in your discipline
- There are also a range of groups and communities in Edinburgh that you can get involved with.
Staff mentoring scheme
- Feeling alone at the university? Maybe you’re in a small department and your colleagues are always too busy to support you?
- Sign up to the staff mentoring scheme to receive support from a senior staff member over an extended period of time in relation to career progress and aspirations
- If you feel like you would benefit from helping others, become a mentor! The scheme is currently looking for mentors of Grade 9 and above to sign up to the program
Have I missed anything? Post-doc staff have highlighted that they have used the above services to gain support and improve their wellbeing. If you found that another service has been useful for you, please get in touch, as it could be useful for other postdocs that may not have heard of it!