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Lately, I have been really trying to find ways to be a productive as I can. For about a month, I was just running on fumes practically and going with the flow. My motivation to really do anything was lacking and I just wanted to stay home, watch TV, and go to sleep at 8 pm each night. The reason for this was because I hit burn out. PhD students take a comprehensive exam/qualifying exam as well as an oral presentation. I have written about it (here and here). This was a month long stress fest that ended in burn out. In fact, they have a name for this specific burnout called Post-Qual Slump (PQS). They even made a comic about it too (here). Luckily, that lack of motivation has passed.
Because of all this extra productivity that I strive to achieve, I have come to some scary situations that actually aren’t that scary. For someone who is more introverted than extroverted, I tend to get anxious about simple things that require me to venture out of my comfort zone. These include 1) emailing my advisor 2) asking for help 3) calling someone 4) going to things alone and so on and so on. Literally things that are really not that difficult are actually quite terrifying.
I am not alone. These are very common things that make grad students anxious, surprisingly. So, to make them less scary, I have decided to tackle these head on. Well, I’m starting small by only tackling one thing at a time. Each day, I have been doing one thing that scares me. So for example, this morning, I reached out to someone about information that i need. I asked for help, essentially. Honestly, it wasn’t that difficult to do, but for a minute, I was a bit anxious. I did it anyway.
What I am trying to do is convince my brain that there really isn’t any danger with what I am doing. I am facing a fear, convincing myself that it wasn’t scary or dangerous, then later, my mind will remember that it wasn’t bad. Boom! Less anxiety. This is the same concept that they teach in a speech class. Presentations are one of the scariest things that you can do, if you aren’t adventurous lol. My speech professor told us the best way to get over being nervous and scared is to just do it. This is how I was able to conquer that fear.
Each day, find something that makes you nervous, like calling somebody, or going to the movies alone (surprisingly common fear). Start small and you will start feeling more confident in everything you do. Soon, you’ll realize how easy things are and how not-so-scary they actually are. Below is a great video on how to face your fears through exposure.
I hope that you are able to face all of your fears and take back your life. Have a wonderful day.
Excellent advice! Burnout is no fun – starting small and tackling one thing at a time definitely helps. Also, having patience and compassion for yourself. Great post.
Valuable post. Good way to present the advice.
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A thing about anxiety. I’ve been planning a post about it soon but I don’t want it to be a novel. I grew up with many friends. I was lucky to be brought into their circle. Why? Because I had severe social anxiety. I couldn’t walk back up to a counter at a McDonald’s as a teenager and ask for a extra bag of small fries because I was terrified (Can’t believe I ate that toxic food). Anyway, long story short I looked for a job that would take me head on with my anxieties. Selling cars. It was extremely hard at first but I overcame it. Im still anxious about some things but nowhere near how I used to feel. Like you said in your post, I did a difficult thing (for me). But instead of doing one thing a day, I sold cars for five years. I would never go back, stressful as all hell but it did save me.
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