10th of October is celebrated as World Mental Health Day. As the feeling of going crazy is inherent to all academic writers at some point of their work, we couldn’t ignore this day.
The World Federation for Mental Health, the international organization, aiming to prevent mental disorders and provide treatment of those who have already faced it, announced 2017 to be a year of a Mental Health in the Workplace. According to the WFMH, employee’s psychological stability and mental health are often neglected by the employers, as they are hard to measure and are of seemingly less importance to productivity.
The reality is that more and more professionals suffer from the work-related depressive states, which affects their working capacities and quality of life in general. It is established that every fifth employee has a mental condition, which makes it 20% of the entire workforce. The research held by the WFMH shows that 50% of people with depression are untreated and once you have a depressive episode, with 94% probability you will experience the lack of concentration, difficulties with decision making and remembering.
The WFMH points out that though employers should care more about the mental health of their employees, it is obligatory for every specialist to be attentive to their psychological state at a workplace and beyond. To know if you need to adjust your routine to keep sane, check on the symptoms of what we call “Academic Writer’s End of the World Syndrome” and get some tips on avoiding it.
Anxiety. Mostly accompanied by necessity to check e-mail every five minutes, and if nothing there for half an hour, checking the major websites you are writing for. Can also be followed by nomophobia, new illness, which means excruciating fear of forgetting your phone at home.
Irritancy. Nothing goes the way you see perfect, and it keeps you unrest. Being unable to spill it over clients or agency, you eat your heart out and snap at your close ones.
|Messiah complex. You start feeling like every paper you submit is a matter of life and death to your client. It increases your anxiety and irritancy at those who think differently and want your attention.|
|Inferiority complex. Despite the seeming conflict, it works perfectly with the Messiah complex. Giving an enormous, “life-saving” meaning to every paper, you get depressed if anything goes wrong. You tend to take every comment, revision or even the absence of gratitude too personal.|
|Imposter syndrome. After Messiah-Inferiority complexes’ rollercoaster, you might start focusing on failures, seeing successes as accidental. You might feel like in the reality you only pretend to be a good academic writer, and despite everything you achieve, there is a chance once you will be disclosed as an imposter.|
Rule your work, don’t let your work rule you. Working more than 50 hours per week almost doubles the stress you normally receive and weakens your immune system. If you get sick more and more often, it might be the result of being too anxious about your academic writing routine you don’t control enough. Pay attention to proper time management and don’t forget to take days-off once in a while.
There is a joke, that true freelancers don’t eat, they snack, and that they don’t sleep, they nap. If reading this you smiled and nodded your head, you are walking a slippery slope. Enough sleep (no less than 7 hours) is a must for your brain to restore its capacities. When you constantly sleep less than that you lose concentration and your irritancy rises drastically.
Diet is another critical point for your mental health. Try to eat more nuts, seeds, and fresh vegetables. If you feel like you can sell your soul for a piece of cake or a chocolate bar, try to stop and eat something neutral, like a vegetable. You have a low blood sugar because you are hungry, and you lack dopamine because you are working hard and need some gratification. Trick your body with some healthy food :)
Don’t just imagine it, but write it down. What if..? What if your biggest fear about your academic writing routine comes true? What if you lose your account? Or your PRO-status? We tend to overestimate the effect of the particular event and underestimate our ability to deal with changes. Write down the worst case scenario for every of your biggest fears and try to find a way out. Analyzing the potential threats and negative outcomes in such way won’t make you neglect your responsibilities, but will help face reality, not your dark fantasies.
Your work is serious, so are the problems you experience. What you don’t like to do, is to talk about it with others. Being often told “to find a real job, and see what the real problems are” you stop sharing your problems, fears and anxiety with your close ones. It is a dead end because the negative emotions you gather, block your ability to develop and enjoy your work, which leads to the inevitable burn-out. To make sure your friends and relatives understand you, try to draw parallels between your and their work. Explain more detailed, without using specific terms, how the system of academic writing works, what are the risks and pitfalls.
We have a forum, where you can share your concerns with others and receive feedback from people who understand you. You can address us on Facebook, and we will be glad to support you. Take your health, both physical and mental, serious. At least partly the same serious as you take your academic writing responsibilities.
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