Putting dark days behind us

And so we are approaching the end of 2020. The days are getting short, and I am prioritising getting out of the house for a walk (however briefly) during daylight hours to help me get through. Only one week left before the winter solstice in the UK, and the longer days start to bring hope of spring and a COVID-19 vaccine roll-out.

Stonehenge, photographed at sunset close to the Winter Solstice (2009)

What a year it has been – certainly one that none of us will forget. Research programmes have been significantly disrupted by the lockdowns imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19, and many of us will have experienced additional challenges and hardships related to the virus. The University Graduate School continue to maintain a webpage with COVID-19 advice for PGRs.

After Friday this week, the University will close for the Christmas break. I am normally a strong advocate for the value of taking a break away from research, both for personal wellbeing and for the new perspective it might bring to your work. If you are able to take a break, I would strongly encourage you to do so. Spend time with loved ones (whether virtually or in person). However, with all the disruption this year, I imagine some of you will be continuing to actively engage with your research. The Main Library, including the Researcher Suite and café, will remain open over the Christmas vacation – just remember that you need to book your visit. See Christmas on campus for information about additional services and events.

Last year, I invited you to reflect on the 2019 with these words:

I would like you to reflect on how far you’ve come and the things you have achieved in that time

Fast away the old year passes…

At the end of 2020, this seems like even better advice. There has been so much going on that we may not have taken the time to recognise our achievements, of which there have necessarily been many; we have all been responding to change and learning new ways of doing everything across every aspect of our lives. See last year’s post for a set of prompt questions to help you reflect on your achievements, development and strengths.

However you will be spending Christmas and New Year in 2020, I wish you all the best. Be kind to yourself, and put 2020 behind you with hope for a better 2021 for all of us.

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Helen Kara

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