Mental Health Matters is a light-hearted and invigorating podcast for and by KU Leuven researchers. Robyn and PJ (Pieter-Jan) talk with other PhD students and Postdocs about their mental well-being. You’ll hear inspiring stories on how they keep in a good mental shape. Through the different episodes we tackle different questions like: How do you stay confident and resilient in a highly competitive world? How do you deal with stress, isolation or anxiety? How do you create a good work/life balance? And how do you stay motivated during your research process? Colleagues and professors share their experiences and advice. Discover new habits to stay healthy and in a good mental shape.
You can find more information about this podcast and KU Leuven healthy on: kuleuven.be/healthy/podcast_en/podcasts_en.
How to foster a mindful and open feedback culture?
Michalina is a first-year Ph.D. at KU Leuven. In this first year, she has already learned a lot about the importance of feedback. “I think to give good feedback also means that you can communicate it well and that the other person can receive it well. I think sometimes there is an imbalance in that.” She underlines the importance of an open and safe space where things can be shared in a direct, straightforward way. In this final episode of Mental Health Matters, Michalina, Robyn and PJ share ideas on how to create this safe space and how this can be beneficial to your work-life balance.
How to build social connections when feeling isolated?
Lars has been around the world! He’s originally from The Netherlands, but has already lived in Antwerp, Leuven, Melbourne, Brussels, Montreal and Finland. “It’s exciting, for the first month, to move into a new place, but on the other hand it’s quite tiring, and you start missing your friends.” Lars has struggled with feelings of isolation in different academic environments. Along the way, he learned that many other Ph.D.’s experienced the same issues. Want to know how he handled the situation and how he’s doing now? Listen to this episode to hear his story.
How to cope with perfectionism and the fear of failure?
Anaëlle moved from France to Belgium and is now doing her PhD at KU Leuven. From the moment she started her PhD, her perfectionism took over. It has always been part of her life, but she finally knows how to define it. Throughout her Ph.D., she could count on a lot of understanding: “My supervisor has been really great, I told her that I went to a psychologist and that she told me that I struggle with perfectionism. My supervisor was making sure that when there was some progress in my PhD, she really pointed it out and that was really encouraging.” In this episode, Anaëlle talks about perfectionism and her fear of failure.
How can digital disconnection create a healthy work-life balance?
Alice does her PhD at KU Leuven about digital disconnection. Although it’s the topic she’s doing research about, she also resonates with it: “I try to organize my workday in sort of blocks, during the focus block I switch off all notifications, close my mailbox, put my smartphone away and put on my headphones to really be in my concentration bubble.” This eye-opening episode gives you tips and tricks on how to stay digitally disconnected and how to positively use digital tools.
How to build resilience and a learning mindset?
Margarita noticed she had a strong resilience compared to her peers. She also had stress during her PhD, but overall she really enjoyed it. “One of the things I feel maybe PhD’s do, is that they expect that everything is good at the first chance. But doing a PhD is also a learning process, and you have to be humble about that and be open to it.” Listen to this episode and learn how yoga also helps Margarita build resilience.
How to prevent a burnout?
Jack moved from Paris to Leuven during the lockdown in March 2020. Due to pandemic regulations, it was hard to connect with people, and he had to deal with a lot of stress: “It’s the tricky aspect, you don’t see it installing in your head, but you feel bad, you’re not as motivated as you should be, you don’t sense any pleasure during your work.” Luckily, he recognized these signs as red flags, before they resulted in a burn-out. But what if it’s too late? Listen to this episode where Robyn, PJ and Jack talk about these signs.