If you were to describe what it’s like living with your brain, you’ll probably describe a scene with an internal dialogue, perhaps an internal critic, and a seemingly never ending stream of emotions, worries, thoughts, dreams, hopes, fears and anxieties.

This inner-working is part of being human, but often PhD students find that the negative dimensions of their mind – the inner critic, the self-doubt, the fear of failure, the perfectionism – dominate proceedings.

It can feel like a real burden. A struggle even, as you navigate your PhD carrying the weight of internal mental struggle.

This week is mental health awareness week, a particularly significant event in the context of lockdown and covid-19. Those who previously never gave much thought to mental wellbeing are starting to realise their own emotional struggles, and those with existing mental health concerns are finding their resolve tested.

In each of this week’s daily emails I’ll be talking specifically about mental balance. Each day I will offer advice and insight into what it means to take your mental health seriously as a PhD student.

Much will focus around the idea of letting go of attachment – to thoughts, to worries, to that sense of what you ‘should’ do, or to feelings of inadequacy. I’ll also offer links to external resources that you can draw upon to find balance.

Today though my advice is this. Spend a moment now to pause. Breathe in deeply and think – really think – about how you are feeling in this moment. What’s on your mind? Are you worried about anything? Is that worry serving you or are you serving it? Can you drop the worry and focus instead more mindfully on the present moment?