Tips for Maintaining Mental and Physical Health While Getting Your PhD

by NotedSource

Published May 10, 2023

Pursuing a PhD can be a demanding and stressful endeavor. Balancing research, coursework, and personal life can put a strain on both mental and physical health. In this article, we will discuss five key tips for maintaining mental and physical health while working towards your PhD. By implementing these strategies, you can ensure a more successful and enjoyable academic journey.

Establish a consistent routine

Having a consistent daily routine can help you better manage your time and reduce stress (Mendoza et al., 2010). Schedule time for your research, coursework, and personal commitments, as well as regular breaks for relaxation and exercise. By adhering to a routine, you can develop healthy habits, maintain work-life balance, and create a sense of stability in your life.

Practice self-care and stress reduction techniques

Self-care is essential for maintaining mental health during your PhD journey (Levecque et al., 2017). Incorporate stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises into your daily routine (Shapiro et al., 2005). Prioritize your sleep, as inadequate rest can have a detrimental impact on cognitive functioning and emotional well-being (Walker & Stickgold, 2006). Additionally, seek out support from friends, family, and colleagues, as social connections have been shown to buffer against the effects of stress (Cohen & Wills, 1985).

Engage in regular physical activity

Physical activity has been shown to improve mental health, cognitive functioning, and overall well-being (Penedo & Dahn, 2005). Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week, along with strength training activities for all major muscle groups (Garber et al., 2011). Regular exercise can help alleviate stress, improve mood, and increase energy levels, making it a vital component of a healthy PhD lifestyle.

Develop effective time management and organizational skills

Effective time management and organizational skills can help reduce stress and promote a sense of control over your workload (Britton & Tesser, 1991). Utilize tools such as calendars, to-do lists, and project management software to prioritize tasks and track progress. Break down larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps, and set realistic deadlines for completion. By staying organized and managing your time efficiently, you can reduce the risk of burnout and maintain a healthier work-life balance.

Seek professional help if necessary

If you find yourself struggling with mental health issues or stress management, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. Many universities offer counseling services specifically for graduate students (Hyun et al., 2006). Talking with a therapist or counselor can provide valuable support and guidance in addressing the unique challenges of pursuing a PhD.

Maintaining mental and physical health is crucial for a successful PhD journey. By establishing a consistent routine, practicing self-care, engaging in regular physical activity, developing effective time management skills, and seeking professional help when necessary, you can protect your well-being and optimize your academic performance.


Britton, B. K., & Tesser, A. (1991). Effects of time-management practices on college grades. Journal of Educational Psychology, 83(3), 405-410. DOI: 10.1037/0022-0663.83.3.405

Cohen, S., & Wills, T. A. (1985). Stress, social support, and the buffering hypothesis. Psychological Bulletin, 98(2), 310-357. DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.98.2.310

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