Write or Die. How to Stay Sane as a PhD Student. Being a PhD student is challenging and difficult. There is a certain amount of pressure put on scholars and the educational process is quite stressful. However, no matter how hard postgraduate study is, you should not neglect your mental health. If things get too hard and unbearable for you, but to complete your work is still important or necessary, there is always a possibility to buy a thesis paper and just relax.
To survive academia and improve your mental health while studying, you need to identify the problem itself, know why it might have occurred, and learn what one can do about it. Here below you can find some of our observations on reasons and solutions.
Primarily, you should understand for yourself why you applied for PhD program. Did you realize what the process involves and what are your goals? One might have wanted just to continue education at the university; the other one could have enrolled since they did not know what else to do in life. If this is your case and you have no intention to be involved in science, there is no use torturing yourself. You might want to consider focusing more on your true passion in life. That will surely result in your better mental health.
Only a few people pursue their academic careers. If you are on the fence and still thinking about whether to apply or not, you should start by weighing all the pros and cons. Also, keep in mind why you need to do it. Consider making some deep research on your potential PhD program. You may also need to interview other Ph.D. students or professors in your field who could share their experience. Think of the probable future career you might get and of the way to implement your knowledge. Realizing what to expect would prevent you from getting mental health problems.
If you are already a PhD student struggling with stress, anxiety, or depression you should think of the reasons. One of them could be a lack of support from your supervisor and institution in general. You may address your supervisor or ask other teachers for help. Share your situation or issues you have with the dissertation and you will be assisted. Perhaps, your project requires two or more advisors or you will be provided with some mental health services. Remember that you are not the only one who has troubles in this matter.
Moreover, we need to admit that the experience in academia now is greatly influenced by the pandemic and global lockdown. The isolation cannot but affect your performance and lead to a slack. Since there is not much we can do about it, the only option is to accept the situation and feelings associated. It is normal and common to be unproductive and not strong in this period. Trust your feelings and follow them. Yet, acknowledge moments when you start thinking that you are not cut out for academia.
There are also other ways of taking care of your mental health:
- Schedule time for self-care. Switch between your work activities and free time. It is impossible to be active and productive all the time, so you should allow yourself to rest more and do your hobbies. That will reduce accumulated stress and pressure.
- Meet your friends and family. They could give you a different perspective on your current situation and distract you from your issues.
- Practice meditation, journaling. Trace your emotions, amount of sleep, mood swings. If you start feeling unbearably bad, consider therapy.
- Do sports. Physical health is just as important as your mental health. Doing some sports, yoga or any other physical exercise will bring you energy to deal with other aspects of your life. Think also of your balanced diet and limit alcohol intake.
- Ask for help whenever you need it. Address your relatives, close friends, supervisors. Look for help and you will get it. It is fine to show your weakness sometimes.
- Balance your work and academic lives. It is hard to combine and might seem even impossible to do both, yet you can try and see on the way what you prefer or care about more.
In addition, remind yourself that the PhD program is temporary and will not last forever. You are capable of bearing it and the result will outweigh all the negative sides.
Even if at some point, you decide to give all up, and this idea makes you relieved, and happy, you fully have a right to do so.
Another hope is within shifts in academia. There should be a new approach towards supervisors’ training. They need to be able to identify students, who are struggling, understand if researchers need help or if they have any mental health difficulties. A real solution could be in assigning several supervisors or advisors. Thus, not only students would get required attention to their work, but also supervisors would have more time to guide and mentor their students. Besides that, it would be great to have some kind of database with postdocs and other professors who are ready to share their expertise, which PhD students could easily access. Lastly, universities should have mental health services available for anyone in need.