Dealing with short-term illness during PhD

Falling sick during a Ph.D. is one of the most frustrating things. Unavoidable and completely out of our control, but the fact is sometimes the body just gets tired. Short term loss of sleep and short periods of heavy mental work can lead to fatigue. Chronic fatigue symptoms are similar to the flu and can last for up to six months More Here 

When you have article deadlines, teaching duties and data analysis to conduct, falling sick is the last thing you need. Usually, the remedy required is bed rest and lots of relaxation time. How does one cope with this?

  • Get rid of the guilt. I know the pressure to want to work will be great, but you are probably falling sick because of overworking and stress. Learning to let go has been the biggest challenge for me. I was feeling guilty because my to-do-list was getting longer every day I was cooped up in bed. I just had to tell myself that the work will not go anywhere, it will be there when I get back. My health is more important.
  • Run your own race. You will be tempted to think that you are going to lag behind all your colleagues just because you took a week off work to recuperate. I had to remind myself that I am not running a race. The work I am doing is my own and if I fall behind, it is behind my own schedule. Try to control the need to compare yourself with others. It just adds more stress when what you need to be doing is getting better.
  • It happens to everyone. You are not the first or the last to fall sick. This happens to all of us, as long as we are human. Sometimes we exert too much pressure on our bodies and we get sick as a result. I have learned to take better care of myself, knowing that I am responsible for my health. When my body needs rest, I comply with it instead of pushing it beyond its limits.
  • Rest is needed for productivity. Killing yourself with work is not smart. Yes, the schedule is full and there are lots of expectations on your time. But, learning to rest in between will actually boost your productivity. Working for long hours without a break is only going to make you lose focus. I learned to do the pomodoro technique when I am reading More Here. It has helped me to work smarter, not harder.

4 thoughts on “Dealing with short-term illness during PhD

  1. Knowing me, I will be dead before I rest. However, you are so right. Even I’m starting to wonder if my boughts of illness are not stress related? I seem to feel better when I am home cloistered in my room then on days when I am in the office and running to class …etc.


    1. Yes it seems less straining when there are no immediate requests for my presence in the office as well, that way I work at my own pace and I am less anxious, therefore less sick. Anxiety is the worst for me.

      Liked by 1 person

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