What does self-care mean to you? Coping with a part time PhD and a full time job

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The satisfaction of colour coded reading notes 🙂

#PhDchat has been a real lifeline for me since starting my PhD in January this year – as I work full time too, I have to fit my study in as and when, which means being able to have discussions with other PGRs in the evening, from home, is really important. It means I know that every week at 7.30 I can jump on Twitter and use the hash tag to meet other people and share and learn from experiences.

The theme tonight is self-care, so considering how we look after our physical and mental health whilst managing to fit in our studies, work and personal lives – not an easy task for anyone!

Bad habits

On my PhD journey so far I have learnt that it is easy to slip into the habit of berating yourself for not doing enough, not spending every minute you can reading and researching. However, I’ve also learnt that doing this only serves to make me even less productive, more stressed and generally a grumpy sod.

Organisation and scheduling time out

To combat this, I have had to learn to be both more organised and more forgiving of myself than I have been in the past. For me, this means fitting in some reading and note taking every week so I don’t feel panicked, but also making time for some exercise to clear my head and give me energy, and an evening a week when I just rest and get an early night. These may sound like obvious tips, but when your list of tasks to do is as long as a really long elbow, it is easy to slip into stressing and panicking and not making time for that all important headspace.

My week so far

For me this week this has meant getting 2000 words down in literature notes, organising my reading in to lovely colour coded sections (little bit of stationary OCD there!), but also going to an evening exercise class and then tonight, relaxing with a curry and my pyjamas – alongside #PhDchat of course! At the weekend I plan to read a further three papers and add the (hopefully) useful notes to my current ones.

I would love to hear people’s tips on how they balance their self-care with their PhD work, so please feel free to comment or tweet @megan_beech