Mind the Gap Between Your Work and Your Life

The worrisome mental state of post-graduate students (as well as post-docs) is by now well acknowledged in the community. Nature and other media every now and then publish new editorials and opinions about the state of PhD students and the possible source of their manifold frustrations (e.g. 1, 23, 4). The problem is very complex, as it touches many aspects of academic routine and academic culture in general (but here are some reasons: 1, 2). So vast the problem is, that the whole study courses and conferences are organized in an attempt to understand this problem.

Personally, I think the problem is relatable to all of us – new, half-through or former – PhD students, and there is definitely a lesson to learn in every PhD experience. There is always this moment of your PhD when you find yourself on Sunday night in a murky corridor under a blinking halogen lamp carrying yet another 100th sample to the reading machine. Suddenly you stop and ask yourself: ‘What am I really doing here?’

If you survive this you can survive many things afterwards. But the point is that it’s not easy. You have to be pragmatic. Watchful with yourself. Know your physical and psychological limits. And when you reach them, really, step back, take a pause. This brings you not only yet another grey hair but confidence. Confidence that you actually learn to manage difficult, perplexing situations.

We all get exhausted at some point. But there are many ways of re-establishing your energy: practising mindfulness, spending time on other interests, doing sports. And, really, don’t be scared to be open to other people. Sometimes it’s not just about another failed experiment, it can be something deeper.

Some survival tips herehere, here. And of course, do get in touch with UNIGE Health Service if you are not feeling well.

— Anatoly Kozlov

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