Batteries running low


Hi, I am in the final stages of my write-up (hoping to submit in about 6 weeks) and I just getting ill constantly. I eat well, sleep enough and exercise, but it seems the PhD is getting the better of me. Is this happening to anyone else???


It is completely normal that the stress is almost killing you. I am in the middle of my PhD, but I had the same in the countdown time of my master thesis. I got sick again and again. A flue, then a typists' cramp.
It is not the healthiest advice but: drink coffee, take aspirin, force yourself and make a long relaxing holiday after. Good luck!


I am experiencing the same thing :o( I am totally run down at the moment which sucks!!


It's been the same with me recently. I always look after myself anyway but have had a series of bad colds recently and just feel knackered most of the time. I don't think my sleeping patterns are great these days, I often lay awake thinking about work and feel crap the next day, and sometimes dream about it too. I'm glad I won't physically have to go into work over Xmas/New Year so should get a bit more sleep then. I know all the things you're supposed to do to minimise stress and I do most of them, but I can't see this stage of a PhD ever being exactly a happy smiley carefree experience, whatever I do. I keep reminding myself that it will all be over in a few months and then I can get back to normal again. I suppose my worst case scenario is that I end up submitting, but feel a physical wreck, resemble an extra from a Zombie 'B' movie and all my hair will fall out with the stress, but I suppose all that's not irreversible...


Hi all. I am also writing up. The stress does take its toil... I am noticing problems sleeping some nights, where other nights I am so exhausted from the lack of sleep that I get all caught up, its a horrible vicisious cycle ( and I cannot spell that word!) but that seems to be the worst of it. I seem to be plugged into the keyboard at my computer all of the time now, but so be it. I do take breaks during the day to get a walk and fresh air, and my office is stocked up with healthy snacks like fruit, carrots, and almond butter! I swear the almond butter is Nirvana, the extra protein in my diet has made SUCH a difference in my stamina and ability to keep working.

Knock on wood, I remain healthy.

On the days my brain feels like it has no battery, I try to not push myself, and just try to get SOMETHING done, and eventually perhaps just give it up for the day and come back rested. Are the people feeling stressed and etc, remembering to take breaks, either a whole day or more, or during the day? Although it feels like you cannot do that, its sooooooo important!

After a hard 20 or 30 minute slog of writing or thinking sometimes I just need to decompress and let my brain sort of take it in and recover, there are various sort of brainless things you can find on line, like horoscopes, or whatever, here is my current favourite, ( the answers I get vary each time but stay generally consistent, it takes about no time to do, and is no more difficult than clicking on coloured squares) which I go to if I need to just let my brain rest.

And while I agree its not a happy cheery time, I try to stay fairly delusional about this, and keep my mood as good as I can, which at least for me helps my own work and productivitity. Most of the time I feel pretty chipper, but the problems sleeping let me know how stressed I am in fact.

I long for someone I could just unburden myself to, just to vent, and get some supportive! but that seems to be an impossibility, people either too stressed with their own stuff, or just do not understand what I am going through. I am pulling extremely long hours, 7 days a week at the moment...its not fun.


Apologies for double posting...... tells me that my stress source is "Wants to overcome a feeling of emptiness and of separation from others. Believes that life still has far more to offer and that she may miss her share of experiences if she fails to make the best use of every opportunity. She therefore pursues her objectives with a fierce intensity and commits herself deeply and readily." Sounds like writing up!

"The situation is preventing her from establishing herself, but she feels she must make the best of things as they are.
Circumstances force her to compromise and to forgo some pleasures for the time being. " Still sounds like writing up!

"The fear that she might be prevented from achieving the things she wants leads her to play her part with an urgent and hectic intensity" STILL sounds like writing up!


I think most people will tell you from experience that when you are under stress, you will fall victim to every bug going. A few years ago I lost my job and my flat within a few weeks of each other, and I swear for the next few months I had cold after cold, with just a day or two in between (which of course made me even more worried;-)). Once things settle down, you'll get back to normal.


Juno, that sounds a horrible phase, not surprising you got ill.

Quick moan following, btw... I wish people that never get ill and are NOT doing a PhD would recognise that the latter stage of a PhD isn't exactly top of the list of immune-system boosting activities, especially in winter and a credit crunch/recession, so it doesn't mean one needs to rush off to the GP at the first sign of feeling manky. It's just life. :-s


Actually, at the time I wouldn't have said I felt stressed if you'd asked me; I was just running round like mad trying to find a home/job. It was only in retrospect that I realised I must have been under stress and that's why I was always ill. I think that's often the way. So all those late-stage PhDs shouldn't worry too much about the sniffles; it's normal. Annoying, but normal.


I was feeling exhausted all the time but still carried on doing everything I had to. Eventually I went to the doc and after blood tests was told that I was seriously anaemic. I was put on iron tablets and my recent blood tests have shown I am now OK. So have no excuse for still being exhausted!! Oh yes, I am doing a PhD. In fact the doc said she was amazed that I was managing to do a PhD considering how anaemic I was. I think we can be too hard on ourselves and it is important to take it easy sometimes and not burn ourselves out. But also we should not feel guilty for taking a break. Sometimes I moan to my family or non PhD friends that I am so tired and I feel guilty for not working and having a lie in or an afternoon nap. Then when I actually look at what I have been doing - driving from Bristol to Manchester twice a week, staying up till 2am marking essays and setting my alarm for 6.30 the next morning, working on my Phd most days and evenings, attending project meetings etc etc, I realise it would be pretty strange if I wasn't tired.
Omen, I'd agree with the suggestion that there is no point in rushing off to the doctor for every sniffle, but I would say it may be worth going once just to get checked out and have some blood tests if necessary, just in case there is something wrong (not to worry you, I mean like anaemia or something that can easily be missed but can easily be treated). If you are OK then just carry on with the healthy things you are doing and know that in six weeks you can rest and relax and stay in bed for a week if you want.


Pamw, I agree with you about going to see a GP. If someone is suffering with chronic exhaustion/tiredness or other symptoms lasting more than two weeks it's best to get it checked out.

I've had abdominal pains for sometime now and put it down to stress. Last week, I eventually dragged myself to a GP expecting the 'oh, it's just stress' diagnosis. But he sent me off for lots of tests believing my liver or pancreas was playing up. It looks like my gallbladder is causing problems (probably the result of a bad PhD diet!!). I now have to see a gastro specialist at my local private hospital (hello, VISA card), because the stress and worry of waiting to see a specialist on the NHS (while writing-up) is too much.

The lesson of the day: if you are chronically run down or just not feeling right then see a GP.


Hey- haven't posted in ages- but thats because I've been ill :(
I'm going to add another to the 'check with the doctor' pile. I guess you know its almost certainly just the effects of writing up which are making you feel crappy, but I waited ages after feeling rubbish to finally go to the doctors, pushing myself to work despite wanting to crawl into bed- then , 2 months into my fourth year, I was diagnosed with CFS/ME (or at least no one really knows so thats what they're all calling it) and i'm only working part time trying to write up so I can finally take some time off to try and get better. If I'd have known the importance of pacing myself and not ignoring that my body was trying to tell me it was fryed and had enough, then I think i probably wouldnt be feeling so bad now (and who knows, maybe would have finished). So im in no way saying that I think theres anything wrong with you other than Writing Up syndrome, but it doesnt hurt to check. And maybe have a break whith tea and cake every now and again :)


Thanks everyone for the replies....I am sorry to hear so many other people are feeling rubbish, but at least it makes me realise this is probably normal at this stage. Good luck everyone and I hope you all feel better soon...well, when we can all submit and stay in bed for a week!