I was warned by my supervisors that submitting a PhD is a big life adjustment… in a positive way, but nonetheless still an adjustment. You go from spending a ridiculous amount of time thinking about your PhD or feeling guilty for not thinking about your PhD, to not having to think about your PhD at all. I had two weeks of marking left when I submitted my PhD (on top of my full time job) so I think that was a good way to wean myself off of the 16+ hour work days. However, my supervisors were definitely right, it is a big adjustment. I have never been particularly good at being bored, my partner actually said “I think the one thing you are terrible at is being bored” and it has been a really long time since I have experienced guilt free boredom.
It is an odd and confusing feeling between submission and defense because you cannot fully relax (as there is still lots of PhD to do) but you are also free to relax. I am still working through these feelings and have so far realised a few key points;
- Be kind to yourself- you have just submitted a PhD- be kind to your mind and body.
- Sit with your boredom-I have found that it is important to just sit with your boredom and get yourself used to the feeling of not having anything.
- You will be exhausted- in a way you took a kind of loan on your body, you put it through years of stress, lack of sleep, perhaps unhealthy eating / exercise habits. And like any loan, your body needs to be paid back, you will need a LOT of sleep.
- Go back to things you previously enjoyed- I am sure that you gave up things you once really enjoyed during your PhD. It is time to bring those back!