I had a re-read of all the blogs and a theme running through a good number is that, particularly for aspiring academics, there is a need to:

• Seek feedback
• Network
• Sell yourself
• Engage with employers / business
• Write
• Create a good image
• Have a (positive) reputation
• Lead
• Teach
• Gain income
• Get published
• (many more!)

Truth be told, this is the list for successful careers in academia but if colleagues in professional services or people looking for a career beyond academia had to write a list of all the things to do and be at once, they’d, I’m sure, have as many.

In counterpoint to the above, lots of the blog posts talk about balance, mental health, time to think and how the desire to juggle all of the above in ‘perfect’ proportions can lead to anxiety and potential isolation.

Thinking about this, I found that a few t-shirt slogans popped into my mind, such as “laughter is the best medicine” and “life’s about the little things” and I thought, how can I convey, without seeming flippant, the importance of FUN! Apart from my own core belief that it is vital to keep the child inside alive in order to ensure a certain quota of happiness, this got me surfing the net, where I came across the NHS web section on five steps to mental wellbeing.  It is generally accepted that it is a good thing to reflect on our happiness levels and to identify our own personal tools and techniques for upping the serotonin and dopamine levels.

I know there’s much debate about how we quantify or measure happiness, so I’m not going to fuel that fire, instead, I am going to share with you some of the ‘five steps to mental wellbeing’ things that I have in the ‘happy folder’ (the one on my PC and the one in my brain!).  These things take between 30 seconds and 7 minutes each but have a pepping effect every time:

Q: Did you hear about the man who drowned in a bowl of muesli?

~ Put on your favourite shoes (or dress, handbag, brooch, hat…whatever) and marvel at how glorious they are:
~ Watching, “I’m a cupcake” (7 seconds – repeat as needed)
~ Watching “Four candles” (7 minutes)
~ On the walk in to work from the train station, I put my Walkman on and sing at least one song out loud. Not everyone’s bag I am sure but trust me, if you want to give it a try, no one bats an eyelid!
~ I hug my lurcher Jake

Blogdog     Bloggp
(NB: for this one, it’s the hug that has the effect, it’s not essential you hug a dog – a guinea pig is another viable option!)

The above is my list, based on what works for me.  The list will look different for men vs. women, introverts vs. extroverts etc.  Regardless, if you go back through the blogs, you’ll see that I’m just one of several people who are saying it’s more than OK to take time out for the light and seemingly frivolous, in fact, it’s the most important thing on the ‘to do’ list – get your happy folder filled pronto!

A: He got pulled under by a strong currant!