Working toward a doctorate degree is a very important time in the life of an academic. It is also one of the most stressful.
Depression is very common in graduate students, and it is important to be able to recognise when you think your academic life is overshadowing your personal needs. If you are feeling anxious, afraid, or even depressed, seeking assistance – whether physical support or specific PhD help – does not make you a lesser student.
If you feel like you need PhD help, it is important to remember the following:
Depression Is Not A Weakness
While working on your postdoc, you can become overwhelmed with the vast amount of work that is required. According to AAS Science Careers, almost 60% of graduate students claim to feel exhausted, hopeless, or depressed for the majority of the time they are writing a PhD thesis. One in ten have even contemplated suicide. It is crucial to remember that being sad or depressed is not a weakness, and suicide is definitely not the answer. If you are having feelings of this sort, it is imperative to speak to someone as soon as possible.
Do Not Isolate Yourself
A common trait among PhD students is isolation. With the amount of work, research, and time an advanced degree requires, it can be very natural to spend hours alone. Try to remember to spend time with others – whether friends, family, or your significant other – as getting away from your work can do wonders for your psyche. After a period of rest, you will come back to your PhD in a much more productive state.
Take Care Of Your Physical Health
Life in academia can be very taxing on the body. It consists of hours in a lab or library, often without much physical activity and little time to eat a proper meal. As a PhD student, you are very likely to be sleep deprived as well. It is crucial that you take some time for yourself to re-energise and nourish your body. Take a yoga class or have a nice, healthy lunch. You could even join a sports team and get some great exercise as well as healthy social interaction.
Celebrate Your Success
When you are writing a PhD thesis or doing doctoral research, there will be many instances in which you will not get the desired result. It can be very demoralising to have an experiment fail or hit a dead end in your research. However, when you have a successful moment, try to celebrate it in some way. Keep a gratitude journal and write about one thing you are happy with each day, no matter how small. Perhaps you have finalised your PhD thesis structure, or had a really great meeting with your PhD supervisor. If so, write it down and remember it as an accomplishment. Studies have shown that keeping a gratitude journal can help stoke your creativity by opening up the blood flow to the brain. Keep seeking out the small wins to celebrate your success.
Plan Life After Your PhD
Believe it or not, there will come a time when you are no longer doing bench work for your PhD. If you have hit a rut, start thinking about your future after you have obtained your doctorate degree. Begin to make some concrete plans about what you want to do once your studies have concluded.
Doing a doctorate can be one of the most challenging times in a person’s life. It requires intelligence, tenacity, and a clear mind. By taking care of your personal needs first and realising when you may need to seek additional support, you will find the process more fulfilling and enjoyable.
Photo: Franciso Osorio