If you’re not careful, your PhD will take over your life.

Then, once it has you where it wants you, it’ll try its best to grind you down.

Then it’ll try some more.

Before you know it, you’re married to the damn thing and you’re a shell of the person you used to be.

A tad dramatic, perhaps, but the sentiment is true.

Because your thesis requires so much from you, you have to give it prominence in your life. That’s undeniable.

But the more you do so, the more you run the risk of crowding out other aspects of your life, the things that make it varied and interesting.

I see it all the time (and I went through this myself): the PhD becomes your entire life, rather than one part of it.

That’s less than ideal, for two reasons.

First, you need variety and balance. Where do you turn when your PhD stresses you out if you’ve crowded out your hobbies and interests?

Second, and more importantly, the PhD is an incubator of stress, worry, uncertainty and self-doubt. The nature of a PhD means there are a lot of unknowns, and it’s in that space that our inner-critic and demons can start to run havoc. The more prominence you give to your PhD, the more room they have to play with.

All is not lost.

Regardless of whether or not your PhD has taken over, there ought to be space in your life for a healthy dose of self-care, if not just to temper the stresses and strains that doctoral life can throw at you.

You know the drill; look after your body and mind, look out for your own wellbeing whilst looking out for that of those around you, talk to others if you’re struggling, and keep up stable, productive routines.

Easier said than done, for sure, but then so is doing a PhD.


Hello, Doctor…

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