Excavation and mental health

The dig season continues. For those of us that enjoy excavation and don’t do it as a matter of course through the year, research projects are joyous. We get to go out get dirty and meet up with old pals. For someone like me, who has been involved in research projects since my first student dig in 1999 and now run my own projects, it’s all pretty fun now. But I was reminded the other day how hard it can be for students. A couple of years ago we had some blog posts about food on excavation that dovetailed with some mental health matters and it reminded me I should say this again for those that need to hear it.

If you’re away from home, the crucible of living in a field and working with people 24/6 and having one day ‘off’ is hot. There’s almost no privacy at all – you can be overheard in the shower/toilet/tent. One year I was awake a lot of one night (long story) and the next morning before I’d had my first coffee, someone had already mentioned it to the site manager to see if I was ok!

So just a reminder. Sometimes people need space and quiet. If you’re in this position of feeling it’s hard, and unable to cope, there are two good strategies if you want to keep it private. Go to bed early, say you have a book to read, or go for a walk. We all need to decompress sometimes. If you see someone that could use some time, help them make space without judgement and without needing to know why. It’s the kind and courteous thing to do.

Stay safe and keep sane 🙂


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