PhD and Life – Looking after yourself during your PhD

Work-life balance

Work-life balance

Carrying out your PhD work everyday can be exhausting, to the point where you end up becoming inherently negative towards your work.  At this point, you need to step back and assess your approach to your work, but more importantly, your approach to your life.  Ask yourself;

  1. Am I devoting enough of my time to relaxing and recharging my “batteries”?
  2. Do I engage in a relaxing hobby to take my mind completely off my PhD project?
  3. How much time do I devote to seeing friends and family during the week?
  4. Have I taken any holidays this year (and if not, why not?)

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Remember to answer honestly, as the answers will determine whether or not you are devoting too much time to your PhD or more importantly, too little time to relaxing.

When you are carrying out your PhD, you will no doubt be thinking about it often, nearly every minute of your waking day.  This shows focus and determination, dedication to doing your utmost to complete your project with the best results you can achieve; however, it can also have an impact on your emotional and physical health.  Remember, you need to allow your body to recover from early starts and late evenings. Waking up early, carrying out physical experiments and straining your eyes while working at a laptop/computer can have a serious impact on your body.  Usually, your body will give you signs that you need to relax and take yourself away from these screens and their ‘evil’ blue light and get a good nights sleep through the onset of headaches or a general lethargic feeling throughout your body. At this point, you will want to ensure you really start to look after yourself; eat well, drink water often and above all, get some good rest at night (early nights).

As well as looking after your body, your mind also needs to be cared for in the same manner. When you are working on an intense, unique project, your brain will be working overtime to overcome problems and obstacles you have to deal with daily. In the evenings, try and take your mind away from these thoughts so that you can give your hard-working grey matter a rest.  Indulge in something that completely relaxes you – perhaps a gentle walk in nature that will give you the peace of mind you are seeking, or simply engage in a hobby you are passionate about; this can range from watching your favourite TV series on Netflix to going for a climb at an indoor climbing wall (a personal favourite). You will feel the benefit when you allow yourself to really relax after a hard days work.

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Another way to relax yourself after work is to spend time with friends or family members. This gives us the opportunity to be around those we are most comfortable with and gives us a great sense of peace. Making the effort to be with others is important but I must also stress that sometimes we just need to be alone in order to fully replenish our energy.

One of the most important aspects of any work/job is holiday time; this is set in place to allow us time away from work and to relax with others.  This is critical in giving us the time needed to enjoy other aspects of our life and ensure we do not burnout. If you have not taken holidays this year, I urge you to take the time now and plan some holidays home to see your family or to plan a trip away with friends somewhere that you really want to visit!

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Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post and as always if you would like to comment on the above post or ask me a question, you can contact me down below or on Twitter (@drmikeographer).

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