If you’re not careful, you PhD will take over your life. It may have already done so. Gradually it can crowd out every other aspect of your life as it commands more and more of your time and energy.

This is fuelled in part by a misconception that the PhD needs to be your number one priority. It doesn’t. A key lesson that many students learn the hard way is that prioritising the PhD above all else is counterproductive. It often leads to burnout and fatigue, and the quality and quantity of your work can suffer as a result.

Instead, it often pays to prioritise self-care. It pays to make sure that the things you do to look after yourself, nurture yourself or help you feel energised come first, above all else. Ideally, they should be your red lines – the things that you absolutely have to get done before you can even think about doing anything else.

Self care looks different for different people. For some it involves exercise. For others, it’s spiritual exploration and meditation. For some, it involves family time and time away from the screen. However it looks for you, prioritising self-care can have transformative effects on your mood and productivity. It helps to fill up the vessel inside of you that fuels your day, giving you the inner comfort and confidence you need to navigate whatever the PhD throws at you.

Self-care doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it does have to rest upon one core assumption: you come first and your PhD comes second. Always.

Good luck and have a great weekend.


Hello, Doctor…

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