A PhD thesis is always with you. It takes up residence in your head in year one and gradually establishes itself as a permanent occupant.
A PhD thesis is also, in my experience, a very needy and ‘high maintenance’ companion, qualities that grow more and more prominent as the years go by. Where it was once easy enough to set your research aside and go on a holiday – or even just take a weekend off – by the third and fourth years your thesis demands constant attention. Time off is accompanied by pangs of guilt that you really should be working.
Hard as it may be, it is important to take a break and the holidays are an excellent opportunity to set your thesis aside for a few days. While the little voice in your head scolding that ‘you should be working’ may never go away entirely, other distractions will soon drown it out.
Whether you are in your first year or your fourth year, resist the urge to take a stack of books and papers with you as you embark on your holiday travels. Your thesis will be fine on its own for a few days despite its protests. I promise. And when you come back to it again having spent some (much needed) time apart, you can pick up right where you left off.
So eat, drink, and be merry. Make a snow angel. Bake some cookies. And give yourself the gift of a festive, thesis-free holiday season.