5 Tips to Deal with Doctorate Study Burnout for Struggling Students

20th September 2023

Research reveals that 48% of the students have defined their Doctorate study as tiring while 24.2% have expressed burned-out symptoms.

The figure is not surprising at all as Doctorate students worldwide experience depression and anxiety at rates six times higher than that of general students. They also experience stress at a higher rate than undergraduate students. The struggle is real and so, how do you manage them? Keep reading on to look for some way to disrupt the Doctorate study burnout cycle and regain the joy in your studies.

What Is Doctorate Study Burnout?

To combat burnout, you first need to understand what it is. Conceptual burnout models tend to classify burnout into three main dimensions. This includes cynicism, exhaustion, and lack of personal achievement.

12 stages of Burnout
Source: themindsjournal.com

When you feel burned out, you essentially feel a deep, all-encompassing tiredness both physically and emotionally, you lose enthusiasm for your work and start expecting the worst out of people around you. You give in to your negative feelings and reach a state of self-doubt when you feel your abilities and contributions are not enough to make a difference.

Since burnout feelings pervade both your capabilities and change your perceptions of the environment, you cannot fulfill your responsibilities. This leads to a feeling of ineffectiveness.

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5 Burnout Tips To Return To Your Optimistic Self-Motivated Self

Here are five tips that can help you manage stress and burnout while allowing you to do what you are supposed to:

  1. Schedule Your Breaks

    The most straightforward advice is to schedule when your break will commence. It's easy to become engrossed in your work, believing that tweaking your research proposal or staying ahead with reading won't hurt. But if you're constantly thinking about work, you're not truly taking a break.

    How you schedule your break is a personal choice. For instance, you can set work-related deadlines for yourself. Once you finish a particular chapter, you can then commit to taking a holiday, even if you complete it earlier than expected. If you are a workaholic, you may choose a specific day to close all tabs and rest for a week or two.

  2. Plan Enjoyable Distractions

    Although putting down your work may sound simple, switching off your brain can be quite challenging. It becomes a strategic battle between you and the work-oriented thoughts occupying your mind.

    Plan activities that you genuinely enjoy, requiring minimal effort. Dive into that 60-hour video game you've been eyeing, delve into that 1,300-page fantasy novel, or indulge in some creative painting. These activities should be enjoyable yet not too demanding. Put aside household chores and grant yourself guilt-free indulgence. The aim is to simply exist without the pressure to be productive.

  3. Be Willing to Say No

    Intensive work can sometimes make you withdraw from social interactions. It's perfectly fine to maintain this solitude for a little longer if necessary. During holidays, people often travel and arrange meetups with friends and family who live far away. If this prospect seems exhausting, don't hesitate to decline.

    Of course, it's crucial not to isolate yourself entirely, as that's not healthy. Instead, manage your commitments wisely. Suggest that people visit you this year or arrange to meet halfway. Attend one meetup instead of overcommitting to multiple. The goal is to return from your break feeling refreshed rather than more fatigued. While this might mean missing out on some activities, there's always next year.

  4. Avoid Checking Your Emails

    If you've successfully followed the previous steps, you might feel the urge to engage in some work before your break ends. You might think that responding to a few emails won't hurt, but you'd be mistaken. That urge is a positive sign, indicating that you've managed to recharge and are ready to resume work.

    However, resist the temptation to do so while you still have time left for your holiday. Remove your university email from your phone and savor your break for as long as possible. If you start to struggle, consider indulging in another enjoyable distraction. Don't allow the work-related thoughts to regain control!

  5. Get Abundant Sleep

    This is often the most underrated piece of advice, yet the most effective one. The main reason for feeling burned out is because your circadian rhythm is disrupted. Studies suggest that students who have found a good balance between studies and sleep have lesser rates of stress and exhaustion.

    Thus, be well-rested to be more resilient and face the stressors of your Doctorate study with a refreshed mind. Follow sleep hygiene tips to improve your sleep schedule and get better quality rest. Avoid using your phones, laptops, or any electronic gadgets while you are in bed, and limit your screen timing to a minimum to not wake up in the middle of the night.

Focus On Your Doctorate, Not On Stress

Facing challenges while pursuing your Professional Doctorate in Education is quite common. However, you must remember that you cannot control everything and you should learn to let go. Since you cannot control everything you encounter during your study, you control the way you react and respond to it. Follow the tips to take care of your mental health and not be disrupted by Doctorate study burnout.

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Written By: Sheetal Sharma      

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