What can you do to manage stress?

Just like with time-management, the word stress-management might be a bit misleading. All stress isn’t bad and the idea is not to remove stress completely from one’s life. The idea is to learn not to give stress control of your body and mind, and to accept that some amounts of stress are a part of life. So instead of managing stress, we should be managing our own thoughts, reactions, and behavior in response to a stressful situation.

When stress takes over everything in your life, it’s time to stop and re-evaluate the situation.

  • Don’t get angry at yourself. Be self-compassionate and assertive. You can handle this, you are strong, and it’s not your fault.
  • Make a plan of action. What is causing the stress? What should change for the situation to get better?
  • Focus on recovery and rest. Stress puts a large toll on your body. You need to rest. When you have the strength, start to exercise. (Also check out my tips on recovery here)
  • Focus on what you can control. Can you tune your job? Can you influence the demands and workload? Can you change the way you think about your work? Can you talk to your supervisor about these issues?
  • Think about your goals and your motives. Search for what gives your work meaning. Why did you choose to do a PhD?
  • Try out some time-management tools. Set rules for overworking and work hours. Learn to say no.
  • Share your thoughts with others. Changes are, your peers are in the same situation and you can support each other.

Seek professional help if the stress causes physical symptoms (heart palpitations, digestive issues), interferes with your sleep, or affects your mental health.