What are the tips to manage PhD anxiety?

This blog answers: What are the tips to manage PhD anxiety? What are some other ways to manage anxiety? What are the therapy options for anxiety?

What are the tips to manage PhD anxiety?

Some tips to manage PhD anxiety are:

Have an active social life

Doing a doctorate course can be very overwhelming and challenging. In such situations, an individual must understand the importance of socializing with their friends and family members as they act as primary support systems.

Reconnecting and being in touch with people who have had similar experiences or are experiencing the same currently can act as a sense of motivation too many candidates.

Give time for hobbies and interests

Many times, following the schedule of keeping up with the deadlines of a Ph.D., can cause extreme stress and anxiousness. Individuals must actively take breaks between their work and indulge in activities that give them a sense of joy.

These activities could be their hobbies and interests that they had to cut off due to the challenging schedule of their PhD. Taking breaks and doing pleasurable activities can help enhance mood as well as productivity.


Students pursuing their PhD might compromise with their health at some given point. They do not get sufficient sleep nor carry out a proper healthy diet which can lead to many negative effects both on their overall health and mental well-being.

Students pursuing PhD must understand that to enhance their performance they must focus on their health and maintain it optimally.

Have an alternative plan

Considering the lengthy process of a PhD and the uncertainty that life holds, Individuals pursuing their PhD must always have an alternative plan or a Plan B. This can be in terms of an alternative career path, Or an alternate topic.

Improve relationship with the advisor

Having an advisor to fall back upon for all the minor and major barriers while pursuing one Ph.D. is very essential for a person’s end goal and mental well-being.

Individuals must maintain a healthy relationship with their advisors despite the possible arguments that they might have with them during the program.

For many, their advisors might seem intimidating yet is one such source of help that is completely reliable and necessary at some point during the program.

Break it down into smaller tasks

Pursuing a PhD can be very time-consuming and long that can take years together. Hence individuals must break down their tasks into small manageable pieces such that they can achieve it and yet not get overwhelmed by it.

Breaking down a big task into smaller pieces can also act as a motivating source for students to keep going and achieve their goals.

Set your priorities right

PhD students must understand and prioritize tasks that are most important and hold extreme value. They must try and focus on the tasks that need more attention and time rather than those that can be put off for a little while.

Working on one’s PhD might be very stressful yet is very important as it’s a key to getting closer to their goals and dreams and hence they must prioritize it by every means.

Hence students can also try and make a plan about how they will be working on their PhD and stick to this plan in a way that does not pile up all the work for the end.

Note that something is better than nothing

Many students experience PhD anxiety due to the overwhelming feeling of not being able to keep up with their To-Do List. In such situations, students must remind themselves that doing little by little is better than not doing anything.

Don’t hesitate to seek help

PhD is an ambitious program that requires strong will and optimism however there might be times that people feel find it difficult to move forward.

In such cases, individuals must actively seek help from their advisers, friends, and other support groups to clear their minds and move towards their goals.

Having an assumption that seeking help at a PhD level can be embarrassing and inappropriate might be detrimental for individuals’ mental well-being in a long run and also affect their performance.

What are some other ways to manage anxiety?

Identify and acknowledge the triggers

The most significant strategy that can be used to control one’s anxiety is by identifying and acknowledging those triggers.

Being able to recognize what makes an individual anxious makes them better equipped to take action.

Relaxation techniques


Even though anxiety can be bought under an individual’s control it cannot be predicted. In such situations, it is necessary that an individual actively carries out relaxation techniques.

These might include meditation, yoga, and deep breathing which help to reduce the intensity of anxiety within a short period.



A key to reducing the frequency and intensity of anxiety attacks could be spending time with close family and friends.

The kind of emotional and practical support provided by these social and personal groups help the person feel connected and aid in distracting one’s mind from negative and recurring thoughts that lead to anxiety.

Apart from friends and families, individuals can also consider speaking to groups of people that are experiencing similar problems.

Set realistic goals

When an individual is feeling overwhelmed, setting goals and targets keeping in mind priorities can help resolve overwhelming feelings of fear or panic.

Setting goals provides structure and routine to an individual’s life reducing space for uncertainty which can be a major trigger for anxiety in many cases.

Take up new challenges

Apart from doing activities that an individual is usually fond of and has expertise in, trying new and challenging activities that put an individual outside their comfort zone in a healthy manner may help reduce the stress and anger temporarily.

Signing up for new activities also provides a path to meeting people with similar stories and concerns.

Lifestyle changes

An individual’s lifestyle plays a major role in their experience of anxiety. An unhealthy and busy lifestyle usually leads to unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, lack of adequate sleep.

A combination of a well-set diet, exercise, and sleep can help to regulate an individual’s mood and equip them with a favorable coping mechanism.

These coping mechanisms in turn help to get control over once anxiety concerns in a more adaptable manner.

lack of proper diet, sleep, and exercise can make an individual sluggish, dependent, moody and vulnerable to anxiety attacks.

Making journal entries

Last but not least having a journal to write down how a person is feeling and thinking when they are anxious helps them to reflect upon their thoughts and feelings.

Putting down one’s thoughts and feelings onto a paper helps to provide a sense of temporary relief.

In the case of journal entry, a person does not even have to fear being judged by another person regarding their thoughts and feelings.

What are the therapy options for anxiety?

Cognitive-behavioural therapy

Cognitive-behavioural therapy helps an individual to control their anxiety by using strategies like relaxation and breathing. It works on the principles of replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is a kind of therapy in which an individual is exposed to a particular stimulus that they usually fear or are anxious about in a graded order.

As and when the individual gets comfortable with the situation or stimulus introduced or exposed to them with each session, individuals get more comfortable with a real-life situation that might have otherwise been a source for triggering anxiety.

Group therapy


It is based on the principle that when an individual interacts with other people who are suffering from the same fears they might not feel left alone or isolated. Group therapy usually involves a group of individuals who are experiencing similar symptoms and problems.


Anxiety can also be treated with the help of medication prescribed by a health care professional.

Though medication alone cannot help in reducing persistent anxiety it can help in restoring a sense of control and bring temporary relief. 

Online therapy  

In cases where reaching out physically to a professional is impossible or discomforting an individual can opt to seek help through the online medium. 

In this, the therapy sessions are carried out one-to-one over a video or audio call. Some individuals also prefer interacting with the therapist through text as well due to various reasons. One of the most common is the fear of being judged by the therapist or some personal hesitation. 

Online therapy can help individuals to regulate some aspects of their anxiety that aids individuals in carrying out a stress-free life over time


To successfully complete one’s PhD. people must take good care of their mental and physical well-being. Experiencing anxiety while doing a PhD is very natural but must be addressed and handled actively.

Frequently asked questions: What are the tips to manage Ph.D. anxiety?

How to handle stress related to PhD?

Some tips that individuals can adopt to handle Ph.D.-related stress are:

  • Breakdown the task into smaller tasks
  • Take breaks
  • Take help from friends and teachers
  • Make a plan to follow

Is PhD stressful?

Ph.D. can be very stressful due to their long-term process and challenging requirements. However, the amount of stress experienced by every student might vary depending on various factors.

How hard is a PhD?

PhD is one of the longest and most challenging tasks that a student is required to complete to achieve their goal.