Five tips for maintaining wellbeing during your postgraduate degree
If you’re a postgraduate student like me, who has got oneself into the predicament of this sometimes overwhelming, at times Sisyphean task, then it is a good idea to implement some strategies for managing stress and maintaining your wellbeing over this journey.
Here are some tips to help you navigate through postgraduate stress.
1. Normalise feelings of stress and anxiety that may appear
A postgraduate degree is a significant undertaking and it is normal to feel stressed at times. Nature reports that 36% of PhD students have sought help for anxiety or depression caused by their studies1. It helps to acknowledge these feelings, and to talk to others – your family, your peers or even your supervisors – if you are feeling overwhelmed.
2. Remember to make time to socialise
It is important to continue to socially engage with others. A postgraduate degree may at times feel like a solo journey, or you may feel like you don’t have the time. But it is important to maintain social contact to recharge mentally and to give yourself a break from your project. FMHS-PGSA run several free events each month to help postgraduate students socialize, network and have fun, and you can find a list of events here.
3. Prioritise your physical wellbeing
Keeping your body healthy also keeps your mind healthy – and we need all the brainpower we can get. Things that you could do to maintain physical wellbeing include undertaking physical activities that you enjoy, making sure your workspace is comfortable, supplementing your diet with fruit and vegetables, drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep. University of Auckland Sport and Recreation offers several activities, reduced gym memberships, and other events – some of which are free. You can find them here.
4. Practise mindfulness and self-care
Mindfulness is bringing awareness to yourself and your immediate surroundings in the present moment. Practicing mindfulness can help you ground yourself and avoid overthinking or feeling overwhelmed. You can try practicing mindfulness with a Spotify playlist such as this one, or by using apps such as Balance or Calm.
5. Focus on things outside your degree
At times you may feel that you won’t have time to do things other than work on your PhD, however it is important to take a break and refocus your energy on other things you enjoy doing. Read some fiction, take time for your hobbies, travel somewhere, volunteer or even get a part-time job that is outside of your studies – it is important to find the time to do literally anything other than your PhD.
Last but not least it is important to know where to seek further help or advice if you need to. You can find a list of useful university contacts here.
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