The light at the end of this dark tunnel!

We are all in the long haul in this together, therefore, I tried to compile a series of articles that can help a lost PhD get back on the track. It's funny because we spend more time in criticizing than in trying to seek that light which is at the end of this dark and grey journey of a PhD. Humor seems to help on most occasions, but eventually we need that hope back, which we might lose in the daily struggles of failed experiments and social media created peer pressure.

The most important thing is to not give up, like we didn't when it come to beating deadlines for our project. The others are enlisted down here.

1. Making to-do lists.
This is how we completed our work, right, so why not use those organization skills to our advantage. I have often envisioned the task of fighting it all as treating it to be another project, finding the things to work upon and putting them all down on a list. Be it the deadline of an application or finding a stress busting activity, just put that down on a list.

2. Taking up a stress busting activity.
It's no wonder that school, colleges and institutes have so many extra curricular activities. The goal is to make individuals learn an activity in the formative years itself, which could serve as a stress buster later in life. Unfortunately, most schools focus on turning it into a competition just like they do for other aspects of learning and destroying the fun and the real importance of acquiring these skills in early life. But fret not, you can find an activity in later life and keep to it.

3. Develop a second skill, because entering into academica should be an option not a default path.
It is essential that you choose to stay into research and not pushed into it because everyone is doing it, or worse there is no other option. Options can be created if you could develop a skill while doing a PhD itself. It should be something other than your stress busting activity, and should be something that can be taken up as a career choice later on if you feel research is not the right field for you.

4. Learn some art or a musical instrument.
There is enormous evidence that music and arts help in boosting creativity and neurogenesis in the brain. These activities would not just help you in keeping your brain active, but would help you in the lab as well. The therapeutic power of painting and music would also help relieve symptoms of mild depression and anxiety.

5. Seek help, it's never too late to ask for help.
Remember, you don't have to do it all on your own. It is common for PhDs to fall into depression and face severe paralyzing bouts of anxiety. Remember, if it's more than 2 weeks of such feelings persisting, be it because of a failed experiment or a rejected paper, seek help. Ask around for counselors or a psychiatrist. Make an appointment and talk it out, because nothing more important than your mental health.

6. Socialize, especially more so with non-PhDs.
And lastly, socialize. Talk with your peers, sure. It is essential that you talk to people outside academia, the ones who are pursuing different careers. Get in touch with old school and college friend and get a breather once in a while away from Science and the lab.


And also, these are some resources which can help you sail through. I'll keep on updating these as I find more.


Here are some of the alternative career options for PhDs if they choose to not to do a post-doc:

1. Medical Writer
PhD student: a medical writer in the making!

2. Teaching

3. Science Communication

I soon would be coming up with a podcast having interviews with people from all these above mentioned domains, which I hope would help people who are a little lost to decide what career option to take up if not a post-doc.

No comments:

Post a Comment