It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? Except you have a few other things on your mind besides the best gift to buy your family and friends. You also have to consider the best methodology that aligns with your research or how many participants to reach out to make your study valid. Talk about STRESS!  The holiday season should be a time to decompress for everyone–even academics. So, here are a few tips to maintain your mental health during the holidays as you work on your PhD. 

  1. Be realistic about your goals: You want to make sure you have time to enjoy the holiday festivities with your family and friends and also meet your word count, send out surveys, or get those revisions done for your advisor before the new year. But are all of those things realistic? Don’t overwhelm yourself during this holiday season with goals that are not practical. Think about the things related to your PhD that absolutely MUST be done before the new year and work on those items. Everything else can wait until next semester.  Which leads to the next tip…
  2. Schedule it out: Establish a schedule that will allow you to wrap presents, spend time with loved ones, and get some things done for your coursework or your dissertation. Make a schedule that will allow you to get all of these goals checked off and still allow you to take care of yourself.
  3. Self-Care: This is probably the most important tip. Here are some suggestions: exercising, reading, listening to music, visiting a spa, or maybe even just taking a nap, spending time with loved ones setting up a hot chocolate bar, or going to see your favorite holiday light display. Whatever it is that makes you happy during this holiday season is a great way to nourish your mental health. 
  4. Set Boundaries:  Establish time for work (working on your dissertation/PhD work) and personal (family/holiday celebrations) time. It’s important to differentiate and separate out time for these tasks, especially during this holiday season. And finally…
  5. Give Yourself Breaks: Take out time for fun and relaxing activities with family and friends. It’s the holidays afterall! Do the activities that you enjoy the most during this most wonderful time of the year.
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