…by Phoebe / from the United Kingdom / PhD Tissue Repair 2013-2017
The majority of my top tips have focused on life within the lab so I thought I would dedicate this one to your life outside of the lab. It is important to remember that although it may feel like your PhD is an all-consuming task that requires you to work from dawn till dusk every day, you must make sure that you have a varied and healthy life out with the lab to fall back on when things get tough. The way you organise your time is completely up to you and perhaps you won’t feel happy unless you are working long days and working at the weekend too but I would highly recommend taking time to yourself every evening and certainly having weekends off work (if the experiments allow of course!).
It helps to have hobbies that will take your mind away from the lab so for instance I go to salsa classes on a Tuesday and Thursday evening which gives me the opportunity to exercise, learn a new skill, have fun and spend time with a completely different group of people. I have also recently joined a gym called ‘Fitness Chicks’ which offers a whole range of led classes for ladies ranging from aerobics to weights to spinning to yoga etc which go on all day from 7am-9pm. It is a really good gym and the girls that run it and attend are so nice I already feel part of their family. These two activities make me feel more alive and energised and give me things to leave the lab for which will actually help my mind and body!
I am not only talking about sports though other things I do include yoga, cross stitch, suduko, house work, cooking, walks and I also spend time with my sisters, friends and my boyfriend Andy. Alongside your colleagues in the lab these are the people who make up the support network that we build outside of the working environment so we have someone who we can turn to if we are having a particularly tricky week to complain, cry or vent frustration. But they are also people with whom you can celebrate when things are going well so make sure you create a big support network and that way the celebrations will be LARGE SCALE haha!
What I am really wanting to say is just make sure you are not always thinking about science or the work you have to do… this will make you stressed and may make you hate your project! Whereas if you have a balanced lifestyle the positive feelings you gain from the fun things you do in your free time will spread to your work in the lab. I like to believe that a positive mind will reap positive results- NOT VERY REALISTIC but it keeps me going 😀
So keep active and remember to maintain a balanced life outside of the lab.