A PhD is not intrinsically stressful by nature.
“But”, you say, “I’m doing a PhD and I find it very stressful”.
I’m not going to argue with that, but I will argue that stress is a reaction to the situation, and that a PhD is not stressful by nature.
PhD stress is common, and there are lots of factors which often contribute to stress, but that doesn’t mean that it is inevitable.
Think about it this way. IF you see stress as an inevitable part of your PhD, and that you have to suffer in order to succeed, then you are saying that there is nothing you can do about it.
That’s just the way it is. Shut up and work harder…
But, if you see stress a different way, then you don’t have to just accept stress as part of your everyday life.
Stress is a reaction to the outside world
If stress is a reaction to circumstances, rather than a circumstance in its own right, then you have a chance to change the way you react.
Stress is a signal that something is wrong
If you just accept stress as part of life, then you will ignore it. But if you see it as a signal that you need to approach things differently, then at least this way you have a chance!
You cannot do your best work under high stress, because it diminishes your ability to think (which is quite important for an academic).
When you are at your most stressed, when you have a thousand difficult things to do at the same time, and when you are most worried about the outcome, the most important thing to do is to slow down.
Stop, take time to think, simplify the problem, focus on one thing, and you will give yourself the best chance to regain control and ultimately to succeed.
Don’t just accept stress as an inevitable part of life. It’s not the PhD, it’s just a reaction to it.