Our ‘5 Weeks of Wellbeing’ theme for the upcoming week is take notice. We invited 2nd year PhD student in the School of Cellular and Molecular Science, Jiahe Lu, to share her advice and insights on why taking notice has helped her throughout her research.
Hello Bristol! I’m Jiahe, a PhD student working on T cells and cancer. In my day-to-day research, I do a lot of imaging of cells – and that has helped me embrace being an amateur photographer. I always take notice of colours and movement and am ready to capture the moment. So, it seems like I am one of those who has a lot to share about how “taking notice” has had a positive impact on my wellbeing.
As a researcher in the early stage of my career, pressure from my project and too many repeat experiments means I have sometimes felt isolated and depressed. My low mood at these times further prevented me from making progress in my project and my wider life, which ended up as a vicious circle. Therefore, I think it’s beneficial for young researchers to keep up a dynamic communication with the environment around them, and drive towards an active status of noticing the world, both mentally and physically.
I’m an Instagrammer myself so maybe that’s why I found Instagram a good way to appreciate the world around me. By following some of the Bristol local Instagram accounts like @visitbristol and @bitsofbristol, people new to Bristol could be busy enough for a whole year —- Bristol looks awesome everywhere and you’ll want to pay a visit yourself to all of its neighbourhoods and parks! For people like me who have been in Bristol for many years, it’s a delightful experience to look through others’ eyes and rediscover the place you’ve become so used to – and maybe even bored with. Sometimes, when I take a lower view of a familiar sight, or stand behind fences, the world is different and inspiration sparkles.
Also, I’m a fan of plants, so I visit @uobroyalfortgardens very often. Royal Fort Garden is the mystery garden closest to you and don’t assume you know everything about it. For example, I never knew there is a loquat tree and its flowers smell sweet! Go and have lunch with your colleagues at Royal Fort Garden, spring is around the corner –first daffodils, now crocuses, and then next up is the cherry blossom, we’re really spoiled…
I post my all my lab work’s live cell imaging experiments on my Instagram, as they make incredible art. In my experiments, the cell signals bloom like fireworks; and watching T cells hunting for cancer cells beneath the microscope really is a hunger game!
I love the hashtag my colleague Grace posts, #mypolaroidPhD, as my PhD is indeed a visually enjoyable project and on top of that, I’m a polaroid fan!
If following others’ views means to take in information, then photography means to put out your own. Take pictures of the blue sky and balloons, take picture of people’s smiles, take pictures of children hand in hand with their parents, take pictures of old couples cuddling each other…
You don’t need to be an expert or have a good camera. Catching the world’s beautiful moment is a present to yourself, and you can revisit your pictures from time to time to remind yourself how lovely the world is, and what a tender person you are. In Japanese the word “tender (優しい)” is commonly used, and I believe having a peaceful mind saves us from low self-esteem. If you’re stuck in your research project and you feel blue, move your sight away from your desktop for a while. Maybe there’s a rainbow in the sky, or maybe there’s a seagull who wants to come in and do some science!
Enough talking about pictures, you may never notice what a remarkable view your workplace has. I’m proudly claiming that our lab has the best birds-eye view of Bristol at night. But I admit that Queens Building has a better view of sunset since it has the Wills Memorial Building in its frame. I strongly miss the library of the old Biological Building, as you can see the best autumn foliage from there.
I always said to myself that “this is a world worth living (in Chinese, 人间值得)” on my way home, when I noticed how clear the dark sky was and how the diamond stars twinkled there, and then the early dark in winter is forgivable!
At the end of this blog I really want to say you don’t have to force yourself to pay attention to everything happening around you. But when you sniff the danger of sinking into loneliness and indifference during your academic life, remember you can recharge your battery by noticing the beauty of nature and the community right around you.
My Instagram: @jiahe_lu
For this week’s theme, join us for any of the following activities designed to help you take notice within your wider research community. All activities take place in the PGR Hub, 1st floor of Senate house, unless otherwise stated:
- Mindfulness mural – colour in the walls!: All week
- Tai Chi: Wednesday, 20 February, 7:30-9:30pm
- Guided meditation: 22 February, 1-1:45pm
- *Virtual activity*: share a mindful moment on social media and tag the Bristol Doctoral College. All entries receive a free bookmark or coaster in exchange, available to collect from the PGR Hub
Pick up a free 5 Weeks of Wellbeing ‘Zine from the PGR Hub – collect a sticker for an activity each week, and you’ll be entered into a prize draw for a wellness hamper worth up to £100!