So last week we put out an article about all the ways you can keep doing research in these lockdown times. The tips range from ones that you can spend hours a day doing, to simple things that take just a few minutes a day. But, I don’t think we made it clear enough, doing none of them is totally fine too.
At the time of writing this article around 50% of the worlds population is on some kind of lockdown. It is very weird times. This has only been in place for just a matter of weeks. Weird times happened very very fast.
And all of a sudden we’re spending lots of time in places we are not used to with people claiming to be flatmates or family members that we sort of recognise but previously only saw queue outside the bathroom.
Other people might need you
Schools are closed, that means a LOT of kids need parents to step up and help with teaching (and keeping them entertained).
Most researchers working at universities are taught their speciality through the time honoured approach of ‘reading some slides for hours’. This is a terrible teaching technique for students and even worse for kids. They are going to need actual focused teaching time. Teaching kids is hard and we should all have a huge respect to the skills of teachers. Trying to replicate even a small amount of that at home yourself takes a lot of physical and mental energy as well as caffeine and later, when they are in bed, wine.
Likewise there are all kinds of other people that might now need help with shopping, errands or someone to explain how to install some video app. Helping them out is a lot more important than working on making old data into a paper.
Mental health is absolutely more important
At the start I pointed out how weird times have happened very fast. You know who copes badly with weird things changing very fast? Literally everyone.
Us humans have fragile brains that need a lot of care and love to keep them working properly. Willing them to be okay with having your life upended is not exactly a tried and trusted method for good mental health.
Instead cut yourself some slack and do some things that make you feel good. Have ice cream for lunch, re-play through Mass Effect or watch entire seasons of shows on Netflix.
Research will wait
Your lab, your books, your notes, your strange chemicals and your even stranger frozen biological samples will all still be there when you get out of lockdown. Unless you failed to seal certain containers, none of your things are walking out of your lab without you.
You can sit at home safe in the knowledge that the work you were planning 6 months ago can still go ahead… just a bit later than planned. It’s not happening without you.
It’s also not happening anywhere else. No one is able to do their research right now. You’re not going to get usurped by another group getting ahead. We’re all at home together. If you want to or can spend that time doing things for your research, great. If you can’t or don’t want to, also great…
These are weird times, there’s no single right way to do things right now. All you can do is what feels right for you.