Health and Well-being in Graduate School: Preventing Burnout

Thomas S. Benson y Christina Boyes, Profesora Investigadora Titular de la División de Estudios Internacionales del CIDE,  escribieron Health and Well-being in Graduate School: Preventing Burnout, capítulo del libro Strategies for Navigatin Graduate School and Beyond.


The problem

Health and well-being are essential for political science graduate students who are aspiring to produce high-quality work, engage effectively in the profession, maintain healthy relationships and work-life balance, and—most importantly—be physically and mentally well. Unfortunately, Western society is experiencing a “mental health crisis” and “epidemic of work stress” (Väänänen and Varje 2019, 37). The discipline of political science is no exception to this (Lau and Pretorius 2019, 38). Overwork culture drives many graduate students to sacrifice health and well-being due to high workloads, isolation, competition for research funding, pressure to publish, career and financial insecurity, and lack of a support system (Lau and Pretorius 2019, 39). Additional duties include the pursuit of teaching excellence, community engagement, and managing familial expectations. (For a discussion about the culture of overwork in political science, see chapter 53.)

Collectively, these duties have led to many graduate students in the discipline to adopt their professional status as a form of identity that becomes all-consuming. This identity establishes an “exaggerated sense of duty,” in which graduate students only feel they can relax once their duties have been completed but the “desk never becomes empty” and housework is seemingly never-ending (Pirker-Binder 2016, 108). By failing to conform to the norms constructed by the discipline, students subsequently feel as though their identity is being threatened (Dick 2019, 163-164). Those who experience their identity being threatened may encounter imposter syndrome – feeling as though they are inadequate and cannot achieve the incessant demands and high expectations placed upon them because they believe themselves to be frauds (Dick 2019, 171) (for a larger discussion, see chapter 50). Ultimately, then, political science graduate students can feel deflated, experience burnout, chronic stress, depressive symptoms, fatigue, irritability, suicidal ideation, and anxiety (Väänänen and Varje 2019, 38; Lau and Pretorius 2019, 40) – all of which can undermine health and well-being.

Consigue el libro Strategies for Navigatin Graduate School and Beyond aquí.