Beware of overwork!

According to Le Guide du doctorant  (in French) of the Association de doctorants et docteurs de l'Académie de Montpellierthree situations can cause stress and possible burnout during the doctorate :

Conflicting priorities 
 This occurs when someone has multiple activities that seem irreconcilable and they are unable to establish priorities (for example between student supervision and thesis).

Lack of a clearly defined role
This occurs when a person feels that they are not receiving sufficient supervision and cannot see what is expected of them. In time, a loss of self-confidence can result (for example, when the thesis supervisor’s expectations are not clear).

This occurs when a person is increasingly in demand and cannot say no. They eventually collapse under the strain of overwork (for example when there is too much pressure to publish, too much student supervision, etc.). 

Everyone has different ways of coping with stress. The stress management techniques most often recommended are :

Management of the situation
To manage a stressful situation, the first thing to do is step back in order to  :

  • target objectives ;
  • seek information ;
  • draw up a plan of action ;
  • seek support and advice.

Preparation for the situation 
Any doctoral student or person at the start of their career practises this technique « without knowing », and this is particularly the case when explaining the results of your research to colleagues, teaching, preparing communications, etc. Stress generally diminishes with practice and communication.

Take a break from the stressful situation
You need to know when to take a break and maintain your network of relationships with family and friends, which can often provide the breath of fresh air you need when in a stressful situation.

Sometimes, stress persists. Health specialists emphasise that you should not underestimate certain symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety etc. and blame yourself.

It’s better to talk things over frankly with your thesis supervisor and colleagues and take some time out. If the situation doesn’t improve, don’t hesitate to consult a doctor or therapist.