I'm a first year PhD student in cognitive neuroscience, and I've been working/studying in this institution since my last year of master's degree.
My PhD project is the extension of my master's thesis project, which involves the use of rodents, and extra-cellular invasive recordings. Since the start of the PhD, I've been experiencing high anxiety and intrusive thoughts, for which I decided to start therapy. I recognize that my preoccupations revolve around my lab animals. My lab usually performs long experiments, with animals performing behavioral training protocols for extended periods of time.
Of course, rodents are living beings, and not everything can be under my control. This is something that I stress about, a lot. An animal might decide to slightly tilt the head in performing the task, and this can be very hard, sometimes impossible to correct: in this situation, one cannot record neuronal activity, for a number of reasons.
I'm in this situation, and not obtaining neuronal data means delaying my progress, which will be evaluated next year by the faculty, as it happens every year. This in turn makes me spiral so bad into anxiety and anguish. I'm afraid of the judgment of other people in the lab, especially those that are academically older than me.
I know I'm not the first student in a similar situation, and I'm aware that many feel the same as me. Plus, imposter syndrome is hitting hard, sometimes.
I'm asking for advice.
- Have you ever been in a similar situation?
- How did you manage to de-compress and cope with stress over situations that can't be 100% under your control?
- How did you overcome fear of judgment, and fear of not being good/smart/capable enough?
I must admit that I have a positive relationship with my PI, and other lab mates, and that the majority of my problems don't have a very objective, precise, external cause, but they are impacting my quality of academic life. I feel overwhelmed and tired, and feel guilty if working less than my usual (8-5 or 8-4, mon-fri).
If this question is inappropriate, I apologize in advance.