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5 tips to help you survive your PhD

Trying to finish the behemoth that is your PhD can take quite a bit of effort, find out how to manage it better here

Taking a PhD, is not a decision to be made lightly and for most, it’s more than just a stepping stone in their career, it’s a personal journey. These four years of intense independent research is not only daunting, but extremely draining- mentally and physically. You are required to adapt, think independently and shoulder the responsibility of producing meaningful work and have it be an original contribution to knowledge.

Furthermore, it’s something that can be difficult to explain to those around you that haven’t been through a similar process. Despite that, having a strong support network of family and friends will go a long way in helping you cope with the stresses of a PhD study.

We talked to some postgraduates who have finished or are in the final stages of their PhD studies for advice and here are their tips.


Observe, don’t just act or react to the situation

Take a step back and observe. Take in everything that is happening from the smallest of things to the macro overview. Detach yourself from your surroundings and be objective. Taking this step back allows you to evaluate the situation at hand better and weigh your options instead of reacting rashly. In the midst of balancing all of the experiments, attending meeting and preparing presentations, it is important that you take the time to manage your emotions.


Devote a specific amount of time to your hobby

It doesn’t matter what that is. Fishing? Reading? Jogging? Cycling? Dancing? Drawing? Indulge in your hobbies at least once a week. It doesn’t even have to be long, maybe an hour or two every week or even a few minutes every day would make a lot of difference to your well-being.


Limit your caffeine intake

Quite a lot of us feel like we can’t function without our daily cuppa. When you’re rushing to meet your deadlines or crunching numbers for an important presentation, it’s very tempting to pull all-nighters and drink coffee like it was water. Overdosing on caffeine can have many negative effects on your health and falling sick will only set you further behind on your schedule. Substitute your second cup of coffee with fruit teas or even chocolate-flavoured drinks. Similarly, overdosing on sugary drinks or energy drinks aren’t good for your body either.


Take a break!

I know this sounds ridiculous with the seemingly never-ending list of things that you need to get done. However, taking a break is essential so that you don’t accumulate all that stress and have your body revolt against it. I haven’t taken my PhD, but going full-throttle and tackling all of the problems that life throws at you and then some can lead to some unpleasant consequences. My body decided that enough was enough and I constantly fell sick at a mere sneeze or cough and had difficulty sleeping. It wasn’t till I took a break that allowed both my body and mind some much needed reprieve that I got better. So chill out! When you feel like you’ve hit a wall with your research and nothing seems to be working out, take a break. Sometimes not looking at the same topic over and over again allows you a fresh perspective when you come back to it. Who knows, you might even figure out what was preventing your research from advancing to the next stage!


Meditate or return to Mother Nature

Different people have their own unique ways of unwinding after a particularly trying day. Some meditate for a few minutes at the start or end of their days, some find a nice, refreshing stroll in a nearby park helps clear their heads. Find out what works best for you.

We hope that these tips have been useful in helping you survive your Phd in one way or the other. 

Good luck!

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About Author

A fan of anime and all things Japanese, Khai has been writing professionally since 2010 and “unofficially” for much longer. In her free time, you will often find her baking, reading, travelling and doing everything else in between.