Overflowing schedules? Too many impending deadlines? Exam anxiety or fear of failure? Competitive pressure?
Stress ist, wenn man nicht nur der Arbeit nachgeht, sondern die Arbeit einem selbst nachgeht. (Stress means it’s not you who finishes the work done but the work that finishes you.)
(Professor Gerhard Uhlenbruck)
Who does not know the feeling of being stressed and the negative attending ills that come with it? When you are torn between teaching and research duties on the one hand and financial and/
The stresses and strains on students and doctoral students in everyday university life are real and tangible. We take them seriously and offer you advice and support! If you experience various symptoms, it may be reasonable to take preventative measures and to inform yourself about potential strategies and services before they worsen. In an emergency situation, do not hesitate to seek advice from internal and/
What can I do when I experience permanent overload in my job and everyday life and am no longer able to recharge my batteries in my free time?
Burnout is the reaction of our body and our emotional life to chronic stress. According to the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) , symptoms include
Burnout can cause different kinds of symptoms: psychological or physical symptoms, changes in behavior or in the social field.
... is a feeling that stays with us throughout our lives – and it has its raison d’etre! But if anxiety takes control over our everyday life or lasts for a very long time, if activities in our free time, our social life and relaxation only happen once in a while and we cannot really enjoy it, if we maybe even suffer from physical symptoms, talking to a trusted person (family, friends), psychological counseling, therapy or help for self-help might be helpful.
If you suffer from psychosomatic symptoms due to constant (mental) overload, such as issues of digestion, headaches/
It is sad but true: depression is one of the most common illnesses of our time. According to the depression guideline of the German Medical Association and other studies, one in five adults will suffer one form of depression in their lifetime. But: feeling sad, gloomy or pessimistic or having lost hope does not automatically mean you are depressed!
Depression is clinically diagnosed by assessing the presence of certain major and minor symptoms. The number and severity of the existing symptoms determine whether a mild, moderate, or severe depression exists. Next to common symptoms such as “feelings of sadness, loss of pleasure and interest in activities, feelings of excessive guilt and low self-esteem, disrupted sleep, lack of appetite, fatigue, and poor concentration”, as listed by
the WHO, there can also be other symptoms linked to depression.
Women are more often affected by depression than men and depression often starts at a young age.
Whatever your specific case is, the most important thing is: the earlier you get help and support, the better! But for those affected by symptoms of depression, it is often especially hard to bring themselves to take the first step of seeking help.
They are caught up in a complex psychological system of self-doubt that diminishes their successes and achievements. They do not believe that it was their own potential that let them accomplish it. Often, they attribute their accomplishments externally, i.e., to luck or coincidence, rather than internally, i.e., to ability.
This perception may also be influenced by the so-called “Matthew effect”: in line with the proverb “to him who has will more be given”, past successes may have a stronger bearing on current success than the actual current achievements. This may be due to the associated resources and preferential attachment.
Just knowing about these attributions and thought patterns can be the first step towards change! Additionally, writing therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other strategies for changing thought patterns have proven useful.
The group of doctoral students is predisposed. Evans et al. (2018) evidence a worrying prevalence of factors associated with depression in doctoral students. According to their study, doctoral students are six times more likely to experience depressive symptoms and anxiety. Their prevalence for moderate to severe depression is 39%, compared to 6% in the rest of the population. In addition, transgender people and women are even more likely to be affected than men.
Studies by various health insurance providers show that pressures on students are also increasing and mental illness is particularly widespread among students: Up to 20% of students are affected by increased stress levels due to growing time and performance pressures or anxiety, expectations, and mental overload. Self-presentation in social media also influences how students deal with the challenges of studying.
In addition, since 2020, the changes and uncertainties caused by COVID-19 have even had a reinforcing impact, especially for student parents, disabled students or students with a chronic illness, and students belonging to the COVID-19 risk group. This was shown, for example, by the online survey Studying in Times of the Coronavirus Pandemic //The Impact of the Coronavirus on Global Higher Education conducted by the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (Deutsches Zentrum für Hochschul- und Wissenschaftsforschung, DZHW) in the summer semester of 2020.
In addition to institutionalized programs that provide advice and support, personal room for maneuver or general tips for a healthy lifestyle – whether it be during the pandemic or not – are viable means of staying mentally strong during the time of your doctoral studies.
The doctorate is a qualification phase in which no one needs to be perfect! You may and even should ask for support – in this way, some problems that may arise can perhaps be solved at an early stage. The following steps may be helpful:
The Psychological Counseling Services (PBS) of the Studierendenwerk Mannheim and the PhDNet of the Max Planck society provide recommendations for studying and researching during the coronavirus pandemic. They also address topics regarding a balanced lifestyle that are relevant for everyday life once the pandemic is over. A balanced diet, sufficient sleep, exercise, and relaxation (techniques) can also have a positive influence during difficult phases of life.
Various contact persons are available to doctoral students to answer personal questions related to their doctorate, for advice in cases of conflict, and for support for individuals pursuing a doctorate while facing special life situations. The same applies to the equal opportunity commissioners of the schools and the central equal opportunity commissioner of the university.
In case of problems or conflicts, doctoral students of the GESS can turn to the members of the GDC, their mentors, supervisors, program directors, and academic directors as well as center managers.
Please also take advantage of the Advice Services Directory to find the appropriate contact person for your individual concerns.
Help in case of emergency:
if you need help with a medical emergency, please dial 112 or call the medical emergency services (on-call medical service 116117, emergency and on-call medical services of the City of Mannheim, emergency services of the City of Heidelberg, …).
Your general practitioner can also refer you to the competent psychiatric hospital.
Please note! The above-named institutions provide care for medical emergencies only. They are not responsible for regular counseling (including consultations for family members) or issuing medical certificates.
Advice and support in non-emergency situations – therapy
Counseling and self-help