Take A Day

It’s a Bank Holiday in the UK, which is always a good reminder to take time off. It might not be today for you: it may be that your situation means you have to work, research or do something that doesn’t allow for a significant element of rest or relaxation.

But you need it.

If your viva is somewhere on the horizon, taking a day off to do something else entirely can be helpful. Take a day for you, before you do anything for your viva. Pause, relax your thinking, rest your mind, leave – for now – all the prep and hustle that still needs to happen.

You have time to do all of that later and a need to look after yourself now. Take time for yourself as part of getting ready for your viva.

The Parts of Ready

You need to read your thesis, write some notes, rehearse for the viva and so on. You need to prepare for your viva, but preparation is only a part of getting ready.

You need to build your confidence for the viva; that can be based partly on your practical preparations, but is also done by reflecting on your progress, your success and your talent.

You also need to rest. You need to recharge. You need to relax. Making time to read and reflect can already feel tricky, but you still need a break too. You need time to just be yourself.

Plan your prep. Build your confidence. Rest and recharge.

Prep & Rest

Viva prep is better if it is planned a little. There’s no universal “best way” to get the work done, but the following questions could help:

  • How busy are you?
  • When could be a good time to start?
  • How much time can you commit regularly?
  • What tasks seem most helpful to you?
  • Who can provide support when you need it?

Exploring these questions can help set boundaries and ideas of what to do, when to do it and so on.

Rest is a key element to getting ready for the viva too, but is often overlooked. So use the following questions, adapted from above, to help:

  • How busy are you? And how much rest do you need to help recharge yourself?
  • When could be good times for you to rest?
  • How much time will you give yourself regularly?
  • What restful activities seem most helpful to you?
  • Who can help you to rest when you need support?

Prep helps before the viva. Rest helps before the viva. Ask yourself some questions if you’re struggling with either.


A day off in the weeks leading up to your viva is not going to detract from your viva performance.

A day off in the week leading up to your viva doesn’t mean that you’re not taking it seriously.

A day off the day before your viva is possibly the best thing you can do, assuming you’ve already invested time in getting ready.

Rest helps. Unless you can’t sit still, unless you just have to do something, then taking some time to relax, recover, rest, destress and focus on being well is perhaps the most helpful thing you can do to help yourself before the viva.

Take today to rest, if you can.


Take breaks, make breakthroughs!

Another Bank Holiday Rest Post

Quite simply, it’s the best thing to say on days like today.

Yes, you need to read your thesis, make notes, have conversations and do lots of thinking before the viva…

…but you also need to rest. Relax. Recharge. Restore yourself.

Do what you can, not only so you’re rested for the viva, but so that you’re helping yourself generally.

Expect another of these posts in four weeks!

Running On Empty

If you’ve nothing left when you sit down to get ready for the viva, then you’re not ready to get ready.

Take a break.

Submit, then stop.

Pause, then prep.

Relax and restore, then ready yourself. You can’t get ready for the viva if you have nothing more to give.

A few weeks or even a few days can be enough to recover from that final push to get your thesis finished and submitted. Viva preparation does not require fantastic efforts either, so if in day-to-day life, after work and other commitments you only have a little, then only give a little. You don’t need to ruin yourself to get ready.

Rest, restore and refuel first.

Final Touches

A lot of universities (at least in the UK) will be closing for the holidays today. As a postgraduate researcher, a university being officially closed won’t mean that the work has to stop for you. There’s always more thinking, more reading, more catching up-

-but there’s also a need for rest. A need for a break. A need to put work and research to one side and gather yourself up for what will most probably be a challenging 2021.

If you’re submitting in the first few months of next year, or have your viva some time in that period – or if you’re still somewhere in the middle of your PhD – take a little time today or tomorrow just to leave yourself in a good place for when you come back to things in the new year. Leave a few notes for what you need to do next.¬†What’s your priority when you start back? The first thing you have to do? Who’s the first person you’ll need to get in touch with or reach out to?

And leave yourself a message. Thank yourself. Boost yourself. Remind yourself.

You’ve got this far; you can do it.

A Break Day

It’s not just a day off.

It’s an opportunity to tell yourself that you’re doing the right thing by having a day off.

It’s a time to tell yourself that you need to rest too.

It’s hopefully space to really get some rest and relaxation, in a period when there may have been fewer opportunities to do so.

Rest is an important part of life, never mind viva preparation – but if you are preparing, do take some time just to pause. Take breaks. Let your mind relax a little. Take some time to rest and help yourself be ready.

Take today, for a start.