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Wellbeing & Support

Writing my dissertation during a pandemic

Written by Michaela, International Business Management MSc

Writing a dissertation is not an easy task, throughout the process, people start doubting their decision, and get nervous as they dive deeper into the topic. And all those things can get more intense during the pandemic. I saw my friends, struggling mentally, and even I had moments when I couldn’t imagine how I finish everything on time. Nevertheless, I overcame those problems and wanted to share my tips with you so you’ll save yourself some sleepless nights and will be prepared for what might come and do great! J  I sincerely hope the situation won’t be the same this year; however, it’s always good to be ready – just in case.  In this article, you’ll find 6 tips which helped me to get through the writing of my dissertation and helped me to feel better.

1. The schedule is your best buddy

When you get a daily schedule and stick to this plan, it will help you with the process and bring a feeling of normality to your life. It will also help you to keep an eye on deadlines and hence keep the unnecessary stress of being behind away. It might be helpful if you divide your dissertation into smaller pieces and set timings for each of them – be realistic and also, make sure you include some time for yourself and relax, otherwise you might get frustrated.

2. Don’t struggle in silence

If you have any kind of issue with your dissertation, don’t struggle alone – reach out to your supervisor or ask your classmates for their opinion. What happened to me a couple of times, I got “tunnel vision” and couldn’t really see the topic from another perspective. Talking to others may help you to take a step back and bring fresh ideas. Also, talk to your friends and family, that will help you with the bargain of social distancing.

If you need some help with the writing, you can always ask the Writing and Development centre for help – they offer different types of support and will provide you with tips and hints on how you can improve your grammar, sentence flow etc. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the WDC limited face-to-face contact, however, they still offer 1-2-1 meetings via Zoom.

3. Be careful with social media

Social media helps you to stay connected, but at the same time, it might worsen your anxiety or depression; therefore, it is important to track how much time you spend on those platforms and try to limit this time. Otherwise, you can easily find yourself scrolling through Instagram and at the same time feeling bad because you should be doing something more productive.

4. “Me” time and little praise

That’s very important. Don’t forget to include activities you like – it can be anything from cooking, playing video games or going for a run – anything which help you relax and unwind your mind. What really worked for me was a little praise. Did you just finish your literature review? That’s great! Treat yourself!

5. Mindfulness

Many of you have probably come across this term and even if you are sceptical, give it a go. Meditation, deep breathing and focusing on a present moment can help you when you’re anxious or worried. You can find thousands of meditations on youtube (try a couple of them and see what suits you the best, some people prefer guided meditation others like the unguided ones…). You can also try apps like calm.com or Headspace.

6. Sleep and nutrition

I know you’ve probably heard this a gazillion times, but during the process of writing your dissertation in isolation, this is true more than ever. Quality sleep and healthy nutrition will make you feel better, stay focused and lower the issues with mental health.

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