What does it take to maintain your mental health during PhD?

I’m trying to make a list of objective things a PhD student needs to do during his long and hard PhD journey.

Any ideas?

If we are talking about objective things I would recommend:

  1. Take a whole day for yourself. It doesn’t matter if it is weekdays or weekends. Take to take a walk, breathe different air, eat something different, and enjoy the little things a little. It is too easy in a Ph.D. to feel disconnected from the real world and be consumed by the classes.
  2. Do some exercises regularly. You are going to stay sit 8, 10, 12 hours a day. You definitely need good health because the process will take its toll.

If we are talking about objective things, I think this is the basic. I would recommend hanging out with your friends every now and then but that depends on each person. And if you are an international student that will be harder and the structure of the program might not help this. So my basics would be to keep in mind you are a whole person who needs also to live outside the program.

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Thank you, Diego, for your response! I’m trying to be mindful of the things I need to do and keep doing. I exercise every day, I socialize for 30min minimum every day, I try to take a day off and go to Starbuck, get a nice cup of Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew :slight_smile:
I have an Xbox. I get it into use every other day. I have also contacted a mental health counselor, so I know that my mental health will not be blindsided. I lesson to audio novels and watch some nice YouTube videos.
I’m trying. I don’t want to be that person who gets burned out because he sacrificed everything to get that degree. I’m bigger than any degree. I’m a human! (That sounded like a motivational to no do stuff :smiley: )

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Nice!! Now that you shared your context I got your concerns!! :bulb:

First, let me share with you my context to understand where my suggestions come from: This last December I dropped out of a Ph.D. program after the first semester, and ever since I am unemployed and using that time to read as much as I can for my applications at the end of the year. In short, I have some experience with the Ph.D. routine and lately, I believe I have a very similar schedule even though having more control due to not having the pressure for writing or classes.

A couple of details I noticed about my routine:

  • When I am between readings I usually take a 20/30 minute break to rest and clear my mind. More often than not I ended up grabbing my phone and looking at my emails and social media. I recently noticed that rather than rest and clear my mind, these kinds of things only hinder my whole resting process!!
  • Part of my anxiety now and when I was in the Ph.D. program is related to my confidence in my writing skills. But I only discovered this when I started going from top to bottom on the Academic Writing book I recently got my hands on. It is helping me A LOT in the mental health area!! It’s more about knowing I have options to resort to when necessary rather than knowing everything. We talked about books in the other post but just making sure this is covered
  • I also play video games every now and then but I noticed it consumes more of my mental resources rather than replenishes them. So I am being more mindful about when to play with it and which games.
  • One thing that helps me big time is “relinquish control of my mind” activities. I like to build Lego sets. For me, following the building instructions is a kind of activity where I don’t have to think or concentrate much on anything. I can just follow the instructions, tinker a little bit about the building techniques and let my mind wander for a while.
  • I believe watching TV series is very similar to your audio novels. One thing I noticed in my routine is that more often than not I put myself in a situation where I “have” to watch the series or finish the whole season rather than actually fully enjoy them. Just to help you keep that in check :grin:
  • And yeah… I never liked dumb YouTube videos. But a Ph.D. program forced me to find joy in little things. :joy:

Well, I think I covered everything from my experience. I hope it helps you somehow!! :blush:

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