Not Everyone Needs to Understand Your PGR Studies

Your research can be so all-encompassing that it can begin to take over your every thought and occupy every moment of your day. As we’ve seen from previous sections, while immersing yourself intrinsically in your subject can be good for you and your work [1], you also need to take breaks and move away from your studies, to maximise your energy, creativity and wellbeing [2].

Having friends or family members who help to move your attention to other things can be helpful – even if it does feel frustrating in the moment. Giving your brain other kinds of stimulation, a chance to rest and allowing problems with your research to drift to your unconscious mind will mean that when you return to work, you will be more productive [3].

It can also help to protect some parts of your life, so that you have somewhere to withdraw to, away from your research, departmental politics and anything else associated with your work. Fun is good for us – so having friends who you can just have fun with will benefit you and your wellbeing [4].

Having family members who ground you back in the reality of day to day life can also bring any of the challenges you are experiencing into perspective. When you are immersed in your research, a small problem can appear world ending. Stepping back into the world outside academia can help you to regain your judgement and reduce your anxiety.

You cannot work all of the time and remain productive.

So, embrace those people in your life who don’t get what you are doing or don’t want to understand it deeply. They are doing you a service. It can be easy to become frustrated when they don’t appear to want to be a part of something that is so important to you, but by keeping you aware of the world outside, they can help you stay healthy. 

If there are people in your life who don’t understand your work, accept this and focus instead on them and what is interesting in their lives. Focusing outside of ourselves onto others is actually very good for us, while a constant internal focus and rumination can lower our mood and increase anxiety. Be interested in their world and what they are doing and know that by doing this, they are helping you to be well and complete your PGR project.



Jayawickreme, E., Forgeard, M. J. C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2012). The engine of well-being. Review of General Psychology, 16(4), 327–342.


Kim, S., Park, Y., & Niu, Q. (2017). Micro-break activities at work to recover from daily work demands. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 38(1), 28–44.


Zhu, Z., Kuykendall, L., & Zhang, X. (2019). The impact of within-day work breaks on daily recovery processes: An event-based pre-/post-experience sampling study. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 92(1), 191–211.


Berntsson, L., Berg Mnsc, M., Brydolf, M., Lic, M., & Hellströ, A.-L. (2007). Adolescents’ experiences of well-being when living with a long-term illness or disability. Journal Compilation. Retrieved from filename%3DAdolescents_experiences_of_well-being_wh.pdf&X-Amz-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&X-A