i. Mental and Physical Health Concerns
If you are not feeling well, either physically or mentally, take the time that you need to seek help and take care of yourself. Specifically, if you are contagious, please do not come in, but stay at home to rest and take care of yourself until you are better. If you are struggling with depression or anxiety and wondering what to prioritize – your health is most important. If you have an acute situation that requires help, take the day off with no questions asked. If you are going to be out for an extended time or miss a (group) meeting, just give Dominic a notice so that they know you are okay – no need to give details if you don’t want to, it is sufficient to email and say that you have a “personal health absence”. If you need to take more substantial time off, you can discuss with Dominic to facilitate this. Being a student and/or academic is stressful. We all care about you and are here to support you – just let us know how we can help. If any situation requires you to take time off, ask others in the lab to help cover any essential lab work.
Personal note from Dr. Evangelista: I want to emphasize that I understand mental and physical health struggles. I have done both outpatient and in-patient treatment for mental health struggle, and have survived living with an anxiety disorder. Also, I have been a caretaker for close family members with severe debilitating disease and I have some understanding of the extreme toll this takes on you mentally and physically. In short, your health comes before everything. I will help however I can, through productive (rather than destructive) measures.
ii. Personal Emergencies
You can share as much or as little detail as you are comfortable sharing with Dominic, all our communications remain confidential. These situations are inherently stressful, so make sure you are taking care of yourself.
iii. Work-life Integration
Being ambitious and hard-working are part of our lab culture, and science in general. But it should come from a perspective of driving yourself for the fun of pushing your limits and exploring what you are capable of, while answering the scientific questions. The key is to know your limitations. Managing your motivation and work habits while integrating your interests and commitments outside of work is critical to success.
iv. Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome can be defined as persistent thoughts and feelings of self-doubt and a fear of being unmasked as a fraud, academically or otherwise inferior. Those who suffer from imposter syndrome (which could be any of us) have the inability to value and incorporate their abilities, skills and accomplishments into their mind and perceive themselves as significantly more inferior than others do. First, we tend to see other’s successes and not their failures. Second, there will always be someone who has accomplished more than you. Do not compare yourself to others. Everyone is different. More importantly, do not compare yourself to the cumulative successes of multiple people in your cohort. Remember, we are all on our own growth trajectory, and the people we look up to were once where we are now. All of us are doing the best job we can, which is all we can really hope for. Although we should aim to minimize feelings of self-doubt, such lingering feelings can be channeled into productivity. They can motivate us to strive for more than mediocrity; to get outside of our work and see it from another point of view. Make room for improvements and challenges. Keep a record of your successes, no matter how small. Practice daily “academic” gratitude. Use it as positive reinforcement when times get tough. While rejections are inevitable, the Roach Brain Lab is committed to providing opportunities that will challenge you in a constructive way.
We are all here to grow as scientists. However, that should never come at the cost of your well-being. Your mental and physical health are an important consideration in all that you do while in the lab. Moreover, success should not come at the cost of maintaining your life outside of work and other relationships in your life. You are more likely to be successful in academia if you take care of yourself and give time to the things outside of work that matter to you. Below are some general guidelines on well-being, but every situation is unique, and Dr. Evangelista is always open to discussion on this topic, so do not hesitate to ask.