by Shema Ammer
I am currently working on an analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data (mixed methods). Although a mixed method design is challenging due to its inherent complexity, I believe that this method enables me to gather a wide variety of data to measure and compare the outcomes of the intervention. To analyse the quantitative data I used the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS 18). To analyse the qualitative data I decided to use Thematic Analysis. The process of data analysis is challenging and takes time, so to motivate myself I attended several workshops. These included:
- PhD Comics – ‘ The Power of Procrastination’ (a talk by Jorge Cham)
- Stress Management
The things I learnt from all of these workshops are helping me to cope with the stress that I experience from data analysis and my PhD studies in general. The presenters of each helped me to learn how to manage and control my stress in order to feel more happy and productive as a PhD student.
The main thing I learnt through these workshops was that we should prevent, rather than cure, stress by:
- developing resistance
- improving productivity by realistic planning and time management
- setting realistic targets and expectations
- analysing or recognising ourselves (self-awareness is knowledge, and knowledge is power).
I believe that attendance at these kind of workshops improves self-awareness, particularly regarding the challenges being presented by PhD study.
Sarah Worley-James, who gave the talk on “stress management” taught me that the stress and anxiety produced by undertaking a PhD is unique due to the following factors:
- Isolation and limited support
- Pressure from self (perfectionism)
- international students
- Pressure of Viva
- The Imposter Syndrome
I learnt that when we are facing a problem or challenge, one of the key questions we need to ask ourselves is: “Okay. So what do I plan to do differently so I can have a chance at a different outcome?”
If we can succeed in doing this, managing our stress and anxiety effectively will equip us with the ability to:
- solve problems effectively
- identify difficult situations
- think calmly under pressure
- believe in ourselves and improve self-confidence
- cope with deadlines
- plan our time effectively
- communicate well with others
- feel positive
- avoid procrastination and perfectionism!!
The TOP TIPS I learnt from these workshops:
- Take 1 minute at the end of each day to write 3 things that you have achieved. (This should help to build your self-confidence and self-esteem.)
- Focus on the evidence for positive outcomes of your efforts
- Reduce mental stress by identifying and challenging fearful thoughts, as well as relaxing through imagination and mediation.
- Reduce physical stress using muscular relaxation, deep breathing, exercise and a healthy diet and environment.
I hope that these tips will help us to progress along our chosen career path; minimising the risk of stress overload and burn out.
Some websites I would recommend: