\#Studyingforcomps - Carving Out Time

My comps are coming up fast (8 days!!) and the end of the semester is finally past, FINALLY. The past two months have been a bit of a wake up call about how I need to take care of myself as well as my work. In the spirit of taking care of myself, I’m carving out a few minutes to breathe and share a bit more of my comps process.

I sort-of saw this coming around the new year, my energy level was awful, I was feeling down all the time (I hesitate to call it depression since I hesitate to self diagnose, but I felt awful) and the semester was just beginning. I knew this spring would be tough, but I’ve done tough before. I started running, sort-of, in January. Then classes picked up and I dropped it, and by the end of February I was eating crap, working 24/7 and felt even worse then I had in January.

Early March my body started to rebel and I felt physically awful, and wasn’t able to concentrate or sleep. So, I sat down one day and tried to figure out what was causing all of this. I looked at what I was doing to myself, and decided to try an experiment. I took all the crap food from my kitchen, hid it away in a cupboard, went grocery shopping for actual food, and bought a bike.

The first few days of biking and eating good things were tough, but they have slowly become habits. I struggle with it every day, the argument of if I should write for a half hour or run for a half hour. Should I stand at the bus stop and keep reading, or bike 20 minutes to campus? I started to bribe myself with dried pineapple (this stuff is crack) and with going out with friends for happy hour (aka, if you ride your bike 3 days this week, you can go have a beer Friday). I’ve also started to keep track of my mood, how I feel, how I’m sleeping, and a pattern has emerged.

This is going to blow you all away.

Eating better and exercising, makes you feel better.

Bam. I have clearly discovered something totally new and ground breaking (send fame and fortune to aurielfournier@gmail.com).

or not, obviously this is not new information, but now that I have proven it to myself, with the help of a few phone apps to track everything, it’s habit. This post has become more rambly and about me then I intended. I’ve tried to present a bit about what my #studyingforcomps experience has been like so that it can help future phd students who have to go through this.

TL;DR : Please, for the love of all that is good in the world, carve out time to take care of yourself. Make it a priority. Shower, eat well, sleep long, laugh.

If you are a data crunching idiot like me, get a few phone apps, track your sleep, your exercise, your food and any weird symptoms. I know it’s hard to make time, but feeling awful isn’t what this is suppose to be about. Studying for your exams is suppose to make your brain hurt, not your body, it’s suppose to stretch your mind, not exhaust your core.

My downness went away once I was up and moving, maybe if you feel down yours will too. If it doesn’t, find someone to talk to, it’s just as important as taking care of your physical self. Many universities have places you can go to talk to someone, if not, look in your community, and reach out to your fellow grad students.

#studyingforcomps is hard, it challenges you, it pushes you, but it should not make you feel like crap and it should not make you sick.

go forth, learn awesome things, do awesome science, and be well :)

Written on May 31, 2014