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Being a postdoc is tough. I know! But there are ways in which we can develop our resilience beyond the simple ‘what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.”

A cut throat job market. Short term contracts. That evil reviewer #2. Being a postdoc requires resilience not only because of our research work but also it is often a time in our lives where everything is else is changing: family, friends and an over riding wish to live somewhere more than a year!

Some of you may love lifting weights at the gym and others a gentle stroll. We all exercise differently and so when it comes to building resilience just like any other work out we all have our ways of doing it. Below are some great sites to help you and why I love them.

Is all stress bad?

We need a certain amount of ‘arousal’ in our lives to just get up and function in the morning. I’m reminded of the film Serenity where people lost their will to get up and go. The Yerkes-Dodson Law (well physiological theory) is food for thought here.

Need a BIG selection of tools?

If you want to take a helicopter view of different ways to improve your resilience then this article from Positive Psychology is for you. 23 (count them!) different ways with downloadable templates to try for a deep dive.

How big are your muscles?

Ok – a little personal! But if you like taking tests then this one might be good at focusing not only on you but the wider team around you. Our behaviours seldom just affect us. As postdocs we often have day to day management responsibilities too.

Challenge. Commitment. Personal Control

Regular readers will know I love the MindTools site. This is a comprehensive but not long winded article on resilience. The three essentials to resilience are seeing humps in the road as a challenge, committing fully to life and your purpose and only directing your energies where they can influence change. This is very much linked to Stephen Covey’s Circles of influence and concern. Check out the video here for more.

Me time

This is an important concept for me. When I spend time doing something that I really enjoy it recharges my batteries, helps me reflect on what is happening better and takes me out of the situation that might be causing the stress. For me this could be jigsaws, watching sci fi with my family, gardening or doodling. Let me know what helps you!

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