Possible Stressors and Signs of Stress

Stressors can be various, but for Doctoral Researchers, it mostly starts with a high workload and high expectations – which potentially activates a downwards spiral: This can lead to less time for hobbies (friends, sports etc.), which can be leading to sleeplessness and therefore tiredness and in the end potentially social isolation. But everyone deals with stress differently. Some seem pretty robust when it comes to stress – mainly because they´ve learned how to personally deal with stress. While some seem very prone to stress and react with severe psychological as well as physiological symptoms. In the end, nobody is immune to stress.

Have you been waking up in the middle of the night because you were thinking about a project you need to finish soon? Do you feel overrun because you can´t keep up with the project outline? Do you feel chased by deadline after deadline? Are you feeling tired a lot? Do you have twitching muscles, like your eyelids or fingers? Has your appetite changed? Have you gained or lost a lot of weight? Have you felt struggled to concentrate on work? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are probably stressed. People tend to overlook these early signs or do not take them seriously. We think, in a few days everything will be fine again. We think we need to function or otherwise we´re worthless. We think our whole future depends on this one talk we have to hold within the institute. But often these signs last - and you slowly start getting used to them. But the stress itself is still there and the signs of stress get worse. At some point, they might even lead to the burnout syndrome. Therefore, it is very useful to learn for yourself which signs of stress you are experiencing. Knowing your personal symptoms already helps to prevent further stress and prevent letting it slip and get worse. Additionally, by increasing your knowledge in this topic you might be able to identify such signs in your colleagues who might be eager to have someone understand what they are going through.


It is no sign of weakness to admit that you are stressed and need a break!

Therefore, be honest with yourself.

A non-stressed you is way more productive than a completely stressed-out you.

Keep that in mind!

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The N²-Survey 2021 is done!
Or at least the data collection part...
With over 2100 completed surveys we are more than happy about the participation (for comparison, the 2019 survey had about 1300 participants).

Despite being a great team effort, special thanks belongs to the Survey-Group whose relentless efforts and great work motivated all of us to do our best!


Steering committee

Contact us

       Martin Schrader

       Spokesperson Helmholtz Juniors

       HZDR - Dresden


       Ivona Kafedjiska

       Spokesperson Helmholtz Juniors

       HZB - Berlin


       Thore F. Sager

       Treasurer Helmholtz Juniors

       GEOMAR - Kiel

NStatement about



We are proud to present the "Helmholtz Junior Survey Report 2019". This year, the survey was conducted together with the Max-Plank and Leibniz Society - including as many as 18000 participants, in order to assess and improve work-related conditions among Doctoral Researchers within these Institutions. 


The Doctoral Researchers were asked to assess their situation and give their opinion on topics like supervision, working conditions and family. Additionally two current hot topics in academia,  power abuse & mental health were included into the survey.


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