A PhD has ups and downs. Sometimes it can feel like more downs than ups. But you won’t be the only one feeling this.


Stress and anxiety goes hand in hand for many studying PhDs.

Some weeks you will be rushed off your feet in the lab, having multiple experiments running, data to be collected, and notes to be written. Other weeks you can be sat around waiting to set up your experiment, waiting for cells to grow, plants to grow, or reagents to come in. Sometimes you may feel like your work just isn’t going anywhere fast, and have no decent results. Other times you may just feel too busy- too stressed, like you have too much to do at once.

All of these things can make you feel dispassionate about your PhD, and leave you feeling unmotivated, anxious and stressed.

But you don’t have to suffer in silence.

The following are some suggestions which may help you get out of a lull. But, it is important that you are not afraid to seek support if you need it. There are now many means by which you can do this, whether by seeking some counselling, or a support group. The important thing is to get help if you need it, and to not suffer in isolation.

Talk to others- You would be surprised how many of your lab partners, friends and colleagues will be going through the same things as you. Chatting about you anxieties and stresses can be hard, but also very rewarding, as the process of just getting something off your chest can really help.

Find some time to relax- You are doing a PhD, but that doesn’t mean it needs to take up your whole life. If you find your work-life balance spinning out of control try to reign it back in again. Even if that is just giving yourself an hour on a Friday to grab a coffee with a friend, or having Tuesday evening off to go to that aerobics class.

Do some exercise- In the words of Elle Woods: ‘Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.’ Ok, maybe not the last part. But, the fact remains that doing exercise does help. It can distract your mind for just that small amount of time, and that distraction can really ease anxieties.

Take care of yourself- Staying up all hours of the day, restricting sleep, not socialising, not eating well… all these things can be detrimental on your health. Try to keep yourself healthy.

Celebrate successes no matter how small. –If you are in a major slump, take yourself away and quickly write down everything that you have achieved. It works miracles.

Finally, if you are depressed or anxious about your work, don’t be embarrassed about it. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Again, talk to others about what you are going through, and if needed seek extra support. And don’t ignore the warning signs.

Welfare week will be running from the 15-19th February at the JIC, and is open to all TGAC and JIC students. This will provide an opportunity for you to be involved in events to help you de-stress and talk to others.

Featured image credit: Bernard Goldbach / Flickr


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