Winter DoldurmsI don’t know about you, but when I come back to my work after the holiday break I get a serious case of the winter doldrums. Being in the throes of the Michigan winter, what I really want to do is snuggle up in some warm fleece and read murder-mysteries in between episodes of Downton Abbey. I long for the wide-eyed optimism I had going into the fall semester when everything seemed possible, but now I’m lucky if I remember what day it is, what exactly it is I have to do, and what in the world I was thinking when I was working on this draft of my dissertation proposal a few weeks ago.  I’ve managed to pull myself away from the NPR “Are You Down with Downton Quiz” long enough to write down some ways I plan to yank myself back into the swing of things:

  1. Remember how to be productive: I got all excited about the idea of turning my to-do list into a QR code game from Lifehacker last week. Taking a perusal of the productivity posts of Gradhacker past also made me remember that I wanted to try TextExpansion software to improve my workflow as well. Thinking through novel ways to attack my projects makes me a little more excited to get started, and starting is often half the battle.
  2. Remember to go outside: for those of you in sunny climates this isn’t much of a problem, but here we’ve been battling wind chills well below freezing and folks tend to stay inside. I have been adhering to the maxim that “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing,” and making sure to get outside for a walk/run/snowman building session on a regular basis.
  3. Remember why I am doing this: I have been really lucky to speak with prospective students to my program lately. I can’t recommend this enough because it reminds me of the excitement and energy I brought into the experience and helps shift my focus off of the negative aspects of grad school. As we’ve written about before here on Gradhacker, being open to those discussions of what I enjoy about grad school is a great way to re-connect to what drew me to the experience in the first place.

How do you chase away the winter doldrums? Let us know in the comments below!



One Response to Chasing Away the Winter Doldrums

  1. Great post Andrea! I fall into this pattern too and find that the shorter, cloudier, colder days of winter take a toll on my mood and productivity. One thing that really helps me feel more optimistic and energized is exercise, especially if I get outside, as you suggest. For those who live in cloudy states, like Michigan, you may want to find out if you’re getting enough Vitamin D. If not, that will drag your mood and energy levels down too.

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