By Laura Harrison |

Last week Sophie talked about how an unexpected house move impacted her PhD experience. This led to a discussion amongst the Pubs and Pubs committee about other instances that have thrown us off the course of our work. These are the sorts of things that aren’t cause for an official interruption, but still mean our minds and time are elsewhere. What’s the best way to handle issues that interrupt our research but don’t stop it? Since we could all relate to this in different ways we decided to a mini-series about this theme.

This is my first post-PhD blog, and I’m now in a six-month postdoc. Starting my job six weeks ago perfectly coincided with a mysterious skin condition. Since then I’ve been shedding skin from most of my body, including my face. Not exactly the first impression I always pictured. However I’ve also been taking a healthy dose of antihistamines so I don’t spend all of my time scratching, so perhaps it is good people have been distracted by my skin because goodness knows what has been coming out of my mouth.

My skin issues haven’t been severe enough for me to take a break, but they have been deeply distracting between the medical appointments, itchiness, pain, and psychological concern about my hair falling out. In the meantime I’ve been starting a new job, applying for jobs for once this contract is finished, commuting 4 hours a day 3 times a week, and apparently I’m supposed to be writing a monograph?

Last week I was diagnosed with a chronic skin condition, and my doctor told me the biggest contributing factor to flareups is stress. Not the easiest thing to get rid of for PhDs and ECRs, but certainly a contributing factor to many health issues. I don’t have a lot of advice since I am new to this issue myself, but my doctor did tell me that I need to figure out ways to de-stress, which sounds like a prescription for self-care to me. I love taking longs baths with a face mask on but these are both things I am not currently allowed to do to my skin. Instead I have picked up an old instrument (the ukulele) and I’m painting my nails a lot. But I need to focus on this more going further so please leave your self-care strategies and tips in the comments!

Laura Harrison is a SGSAH Creative Economy Fellow at the University of Glasgow. You can find her on Twitter @laurasharrison

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