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Caring for the body your brain is in

Bodies are great and you should probably be looking after yours, whatever is going on in your life. But this blog is about being a higher degree researcher, so this post is about why looking after your body helps your brain, which helps you complete your PhD.

You already know all of this, but between juggling research and admin and teaching and life and bills and people and caring and timetables and commuting and housework and theory and computers and conference papers and everything else… you might appreciate a reminder.

Your brain is not seperate from your body. Your brain is an organ of your body, and it requires energy, hydration, blood flow and rest.

Give your brain food, and (if it likes it) stimulants like caffeine.

Give your brain hydration. Yes, drink some water.

Your brain needs oxygen. Have some fresh air, take some deep breaths.

Give your brain some blood flowing through it (as that is how it gets the nutrition, hydration and oxygen it needs). Get up, move. Go for a walk or take a dance break.

Think about the muscle cage your brain is housed in. Is your neck sore, are your shoulders tight? Maybe try some stretches.

Your brain loves variety. Change your eye focus. Give it some music. Add something new to your writing space.

Your brain loves routine. Return to your writing habits and writing rituals.

Your brain is distracted by discomfort. Do you need a cushion? Should you adjust the temperature in your room, or invest in some ergonomic equipment (I’ve just set up a second screen, it’s a life changer!)

Your brain needs little breaks and big breaks. Plan in pit-stops, naps, good nights of sleep, time away from the desk, weekends and holidays.

Your brain will have its own pattern of energy, focus, creativity and dormancy. Plan your writing time in a way that fits with your rhythms, or preferences, or life patterns.

Your brain loves things to work towards. Think about your goals, make the most out your to-do lists.

Your brain loves to achieve things. Think about your done lists, your celebrations, your rewards.

Brains are social. Can you write with others (human or animal or virtual?)

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When we treat our brain as part of our body, they tend to function better. We get to have good ideas, and clear thinking, and deep analysis. We get to make connections, extend our thinking, find the words to explain it to others.

Your brain is essential to getting a PhD. Care for the body you brain is in, care for your brain. Stop putting extra hurdles in the way of your brain, let it flourish, and let it help you get that research complete and that thesis written.

What other things do you do to care for the body your brain is in? Join the conversation over on @ResearchInsider

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