Can I do a research degree AND be happy?

One challenge that I have faced is negative feelings toward my project. Sure, I expected frustrations and challenges about the project, but I didn’t anticipate how that would affect me mentally and emotionally. I would love to feel positive about my research and the direction my thesis is heading, but there is so much uncertainty that some days happiness seems impossible.

In the face of these emotions, it’s nice to read something that doesn’t just sympathise but offers some real survival strategies. Inez von Weitershausen is a PhD candidate at the London School of Economics, and wrote an excellent piece the Guardian earlier this year entitled How to stay sane through a PhD. What a breath of fresh air. If your mindset is holding you back from making the most of your RHD experience, this article might be just what the doctor ordered.

My own advice for getting out of the slump? Break your routine. Try doing something different, whether it’s a change of location, mixing up the tasks you’re working on, or scheduling time to take a break and indulge in the rest of life – go for a walk, catch up with a friend over coffee, do something normal. Surely if it’s scheduled in, you don’t have to feel guilty about taking a “break” from your research. For me, sometimes it’s journalling my thoughts that helps the most – what seems like a big deal in my head comes into perspective when viewed through the lens of my scrawly handwriting in a nice notebook. Which reminds me, I must schedule time for a guilt-free notebook shopping session – which moleskine shall I choose this time? I feel better already…


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