Burnout can be a real challenge for PhD researchers.  The intense pressure to produce high-quality research often leads to a relentless work schedule that can take a toll on mental and physical health. The academic environment often fosters a culture where long hours and personal sacrifices are normalized, making it difficult for researchers to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

One major contributing factor to burnout in PhD researchers is the inherent uncertainty and prolonged nature of doctoral studies. Unlike more structured educational programmes, the PhD journey is often marked by an unpredictable timeline; ambiguous milestones; and the constant need to navigate complex research problems. This can create a persistent sense of anxiety and self-doubt, exacerbated by the competitive nature of academia where researchers may feel pressured to outperform their peers.

It is important to recognise the structural elements of burnout and, as a community, we should continue to agitate for culture change.  I do not want to posit burnout as the responsibility of the individual but I do want to encourage you to do what you can to look after yourself in difficult circumstances.  Once you are in a state of burnout it can be very difficult to get out of it so it is important to attend to the warning signs – as well a coping strategies.  There is a range of useful information on this topic – including Mental Health Uk’s website:   https://mentalhealth-uk.org/burnout/

In this month’s PhD Book Club we will be discussing ‘Burnout: Solve Your Stress Cycle’ by Emily and Ameila Nagoski.  The book unpacks the nature of burnout and suggests techniques for dealing with it.

We will be meeting on 27th June at 7.45 – 8.45pm BST.  A replay will be available for those who are unable to attend live.  If you would like to join the session you can sign up here: https://mailchi.mp/cfc4bd3178bd/phd-book-club