Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ten Tips for Staying Sane While Getting a PhD

When starting this blog a few months ago, my goal was to alternate posts between those that document my struggle with PhD Depression and those that provide tips for surviving the PhD program.

I didn't think it was useful to focus entirely on the negative and wanted to suggest some things that were helping me pull myself out of my all time low, which caused me to start this blog back in July.

I've collected the first 10 here for anyone who's interested in getting an overview of what I said. Within each tip post are suggestions of how to go about putting the tip into practice, so click on the links if they sound interesting. As usual I'd love to hear feedback if this is useful or worthless or missing something that works for you.

Without further ado...

  1. Write down your negative thoughts - Identify what it is that is really bothering you. It doesn't have to just be a "dear diary" entry, I listed a few different ways to vent.

  2. Workout - Get those natural endorphins going and remember that a healthy mind starts with a healthy body. If you suffer from workout motivation problems and/or time limitations like I do, I provided some tips for getting yourself to the gym.

  3. Get professional help - This can be more than just seeing a counselor. I listed some services your school most likely provides to help get you through graduate school.

  4. Reignite your passion - Don't get bogged down by the things you didn't realize you were signing up for. I discussed how you need to actively incorporate the things you love about your field into the daily drudgery.

  5. Get Social - If you're like most PhD students, your social life is probably suffering for a number of reasons. I give suggestions on little ways to improve your social life for a happier, more productive you.

  6. Forget about yourself - Get out of your head for a while and think about someone else. I named my favorite ways to help yourself by helping others.

  7. Be grateful - Some times you just have to force yourself to take a new perspective. I explained the concept of keeping a gratitude journal and started you off by listing my own personal gratitude list for the day.

  8. Let go - It's one thing to get social, but it's another to do it without all of that PhD Guilt hanging down on you. I suggested ways to forget about work and really enjoy your precious free time.

  9. Set goals - This tip is so important, it took me two posts to cover it all: Things to consider when you're setting goals for yourself and a step-by-step for writing a goal list.

  10. Just start - It only gets worse if you put it off. I told you of my own struggles with this phenomenon and how to get yourself out of the procrastination rut.

Did you try any of these? What did you think?! Let me know in the survey and comments!