This time of year can be particularly difficult for PhD students – here in Scotland, the days are currently only 7 hours long, the rain keeps beating down and the Forth Road Bridge closure is causing travel chaos. Those in North England have had an even tougher time, with devastating floods affecting many. PhD students often have additional work pressures, such as research papers that need to be written before the Christmas break. Summer is a distant memory and Christmas is slightly too far away, and it can be very difficult to keep the momentum going. Here are my top tips for keeping your chin up during the PhD winter blues:
1. Get out and socialise – go see a film, go to the pub, head to a Christmas market; anything that gets you out and meeting other people.
2. Make a winter warming stew and invite your friends round to help you eat it. I recommend this excellent vegetarian goulash.
3. Exercise – countless research studies have demonstrated the benefits of exercise for mental health. If your preferred form of exercise is outdoors, wrap up and get out there, even if it’s raining. It can be strangely exhilarating to run in the wet!
4. Go for a welly walk and jump in the puddles – you’ll be grinning like a toddler.
5. Chat to your fellow PhD students, particularly if work deadlines are stressing you out. You’re likely to find a sympathetic ear, and they may be able to share tips too.
6. Create a work plan – what do you want to get done before Christmas? What do you need for this to happen? How are you going to achieve this? Break tasks down into manageable chunks to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
7. Remember – the days will start getting longer again in a fortnight!
Do you have any tips for surviving the winter blues? Post them below!