A colleague of mine sent around this link to the Chronicle (behind firewall, boo!) for some advice on how to stay healthy, even perhaps happy, while working on your dissertation. See the ideas after the fold.
By author Piper Fogg:
- Learn to recognize the signs of depression and anxiety and don’t be afraid to seek medical evaluation and treatment. Consider various options — such as therapy, medication, relaxation techniques, and other forms of alternative medicine. Familiarize yourself with the campus counseling center as well as off-campus options.
- Follow your mother’s advice: Eat a balanced diet, try to get enough sleep, and exercise regularly.
- Find and nurture a social-support network. Make an effort to meet new people by getting involved in sports activities or a campus club. Friends outside academe can be especially helpful in giving a fresh perspective, while those on the inside can empathize and give practical advice.
- Work on time management. Make schedules, figure out your most productive times of day, turn off phones, and shun e-mail, if necessary, and find a place that is conducive to working. Take breaks to relax.
- Find allies in your field. They can help you navigate the world of publishing and help you make contacts to further your career. If you are unsure you want to stay in your field, contact scholars in related disciplines to see if a transfer might appeal.
- Try to fix a problematic relationship with an adviser or mentor. Switching advisers, when feasible, can make a world of difference for some, while simply communicating better can help in other cases.
- Find a dissertation coach or online support group if you are having trouble getting down to work. PhinisheD.com is one Web site where graduate students having trouble finishing their dissertations can find advice and support. The Chronicle has an online forum called “Grad-School Life” that includes a discussion focusing on dissertation and thesis support. See http://chronicle.com/forums/index.php
- Consider a break. A temporary leave to seek counseling or reassess priorities does not brand you as a failure, and taking time off to work outside academe could reveal new possibilities. Leaving academe altogether may be the best choice for some. Talk to advisers, mentors, and others about whether sticking it out is the right decision.
This actually reminds me of what a friend of mine in undergrad and I used to say to each other, and in fact, still say: “Remember to get more sleep, and eat properly.” As if remembering was really all it took to make sure we did indeed get enough sleep and eat properly. That being said, my sister reminded me last year that my job should allow me to both eat and sleep, and that it is okay to do both. Something that I actually do need to remind myself.