The course really helped me get unstuck this summer and it was amazing how by removing the fear and self-destructive thoughts that were ruling me, I was able to write a paper (that I had been dreading for 2 years) in less than 2 weeks. The course really helped me quickly build a ‘can do’ attitude that made all the difference. The paper still needs a lot of work, but putting words on paper already felt like such a great achievement.
The course offered a good balance of explanations of why we behave in certain ways, scientific literature on why stress is detrimental and how meditation is helpful AND practical tips that can incrementally help the student build new habits.
I am very happy I took the course. It provided the regiment, the material, the motivation and I felt supported and understood every morning when I read the daily lessons. I found the course effective.
Great course Amber!
3rd year PhD Candidate, University of Oxford, England
The course has definitely helped me. I am more at peace, and I am kinder to myself, because I now realize that many of the fears and frustrations I was struggling with are inherent to the job. I allow myself to have shorter workdays, and I don’t feel as guilty about it. I am more productive in a workday that ends at 3 or 4 in the afternoon, than I was in the long days I used to work before.
4th year PhD Candidate, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Working with Amber has been such a revelation for me. At the time I started the HappyPhD course, I had not worked on my PhD for about a year, and even before that, I struggled with procrastination issues. Amber was very effective, in a compassionate and insightful way, in getting down to the root of my issues – her kindness and understanding made me feel comfortable immediately and I was able to open up to her and get the issues that hindered my progress out in the open. She’s also very open and funny which made me love our Skype conversations!! With her guidance, I was able to resume working on my PhD and even produce a concrete piece of work – the reworking of an article which had been gathering dust for months on end. Amber also introduced me to a tailor-made working schedule that tackled my procrastination and gave me the ability to produce quite a lot work in a brief, yet concentrated amount of time. I’ll be forever indebted to her for jump-starting my productivity after a very long time of standing still, and providing me with the necessary tools for a whole new way of working. Thanks so much Amber!!
Sofia ~ 5th year PhD Candidate, TU Delft, The Netherlands
I feel so lucky and grateful to have found Amber’s HappyPhD program! My dissertation topic is happiness, so I was immediately interested. Although I had a few realizations along the lines of her program (writing a thesis could be done with greater positivity and self-support), I was often stressed and frustrated by the process of writing and negative feedback from supervisors. I wanted to overcome these feelings, but didn’t quite know how to do it. Amber’s program provides a wealth of information and tools that enable you to put the process into perspective. This really helped combat the voice in my head that said I should be working 12+ hour days, focusing 100% all the time on the issue, and that productivity meant depleting my mental and emotional reserves. A pivotal moment for me was when she presented the idea of working from the “Already There Mindset,” where what you do in a day is enough and seeing your PhD as already completed. You draw strength and energy from this stance that can actually get you there. I’m still working through assignments and practicing all the tools provided with the program. I’m sleeping better, have felt the tension leave my body, and am learning to enjoy the PhD and academia. Would DEFINITELY recommend the HappyPhD program to others!!
PhD candidate, Curtin University, Australia
Thank you so much for the course. It has been such a great experience and I really learned a lot. I had already read a lot of books like “How to write your PhD in 15-minutes a day”, but your course has so much additional thoughts and advice which is missing in other books. It changed the approach to my PhD and I am much more relaxed and positive. I would never have thought I would start to meditate, but you made me do it and it really works and makes me feel so much better. I also like your authentic approach as your course comes from your own experience. Thank you so much for this great experience. I am already missing getting an e-mail from you almost every day :-)
Part-time PhD Candidate, Justus-Liebig University, Giessen, Germany
When I contacted you, I was feeling very lonely, nervous and scared and had begun a downward spiral of despair. Our chat was extremely helpful in helping me move forward. In fact, it was a big shove in the right direction so I’m grateful for having spoken to you, and signed up for your course.
3rd year PhD Candidate, King’s College, London, England
The course has helped me improve focus and achieve more in less time. The most helpful thing I took from the course is the awareness (and experience) that less can be more, which is especially important right now, because I need to combine my research with caring for my newborn son. The practical exercises helped me have an idea of where I stood, and whether it was where I wanted to be. I had fruitful reflections about both my PhD and my life in general when reading the materials and doing the exercises.
I very much enjoyed the course. It is a well-designed course and it was time well spent. I would recommend it to any PhD candidate who cares about the development of his or her career.
3rd year PhD Candidate, Leiden University, The Netherlands
How I wished I would have taken this course at the start of the PhD process, testing out working in waves and structuring the workday according to the energy level in the body. It is now part of my day, and has made the everyday PhD life easier. I salute Amber for creating this course based on her own hard learned insight from her own PhD experience, and think its content should be part of the standard PhD curriculum. Amber is very attentive to individual needs and challenges in coaching.
4th year PhD Candidate, Jönköping University, Sweden
This is a well-designed course that tackles many issues PhDs have to deal with, and makes the PhD process less painful than it turns out for many of us. The great benefits lie in the range of issues it covers. I wish I had been forewarned earlier on in my PhD about some of these pitfalls. Amber’s personal anecdotes coupled with the wider literature used in this course create an ideal mix.
4th year PhD Candidate, University of Oxford, England
The course gave me a great kickstart at a difficult time – trying to get my work schedule back to speed after a longish break, while at a low point in not knowing where I was going with my PhD content. I really enjoyed and benefited from it.
4th year PhD Candidate, Griffith University, Australia
The course has improved my PhD experience, and more. It helped me create awareness around my thinking patterns, and my overthinking in general. Now, I try to work on my PhD every day, even only for a short period of time, and even on days that I’m really busy. I have incorporated the idea of ‘working in waves’, which has made a real difference. I try to remind myself to work from a place of being interested in my research, instead of trying to blindly make that deadline.
The meditations were very helpful. They helped me to find a sense of calm, and allowed me to reflect, which resulted in new insights. So much of the course was useful to me. Of course, nobody’s perfect and I am still working on making some of the tools a habit.
2nd year PhD Candidate, Leiden University, the Netherlands
After a year in my PhD, I found myself kind of stuck, not knowing how to continue and growing ever more frustrated because I felt I wasn’t productive enough. My biggest problem was not the productivity, but rather my worrying about it, which only made me even less productive. I only realized this, however, by taking more distance, which was one of the main things the HappyPhD course has helped me with.
Reading the daily course e-mails is already helpful as they serve as small peptalks, making you realize that you are not the only one struggling with these issues. But the course brings much more than that. The course texts and assignments helped me to actively reflect on my thinking patterns, and to see how I had come to identify myself way too much with my work. Now, I took on a more healthy attitude towards my PhD, by actually working when I plan to work, and fully disengaging from work in-between and afterwards. I really believe that the methods offered by the course (also the meditations!) will help anyone in his/her PhD, and particularly those (many) PhD students like me who tend to spend too much energy on worrying about it.
2nd year PhD Candidate, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
The course helped me in giving a name to many things I was struggling with, especially in my relationship with my supervisor and colleagues. It helped me to see this relationship as an interaction, rather than blaming others or myself, which has helped improve communication with my supervisors. The course helped me to be more receptive, and to understand their position towards my work, and made me able to better explain to them my own position. Finally my supervisor and I could work together and understand each other, even if we often did not agree!
The meditation exercises in the course have without exaggeration saved my academic and non-academic life. The benefits of the course I believe go beyond the PhD and have affected my life in general: it has without a doubt opened a new world of consciousness to me. This I am very grateful for.
And yes: I have recently submitted my dissertation :)
Just-finished PhD Candidate, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
I just wanted to write you how much you have helped me get on with my thesis and with all I wanted to do. Now I can relax and stay out of too much thinking and worrying and I really can live in the moment. When I’m writing, I am writing and when I am relaxing I’m relaxing. Meditation really helped! It helped me to write, to concentrate, to see new ways, even new ways of living and writing and of doing my work. Like you I’m a person who really overcomplicates and overthinks everything and meditation helped me to stop that crazy stuff and to just concentrate. It’s so simple but you need to get on with it. Thanks for that!
Master’s student, Philosophy, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
The course helped me realise that many issues I struggle with are universal, not personal. I could relate to so many of your stories and examples. It was as if you’d written the week on supervision for me personally! It was great to read that it’s not just me. And it was good to get insight into how and why certain patterns come into existence.
The course also gave me tools to deal with negative thoughts. My mind is calmer. It also helped me reduce feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. By the way, I love the HappyPhD meditations! Your voice is really nice to listen to.
Read this PhD student’s full testimonial here.
4th year PhD Candidate, University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands