My poor, neglected chronicle has been dormant for far too long. I still have quite a few photographs and stories of my adventures abroad, but would like to first reinvigorate this forum by means of a transition from a travel-like blog to a chronicle about games, medieval studies, and academia. In a way, this post is about coping with transitions, of staying happy and productive during uncertain times.
For most of my PhD experience so far I have encountered little stress; folks sometimes wonder how that can be the case. I had tremendous amounts of anxiety during my MA (2007-2008), which eventually led to burnout and 1.5 years working outside grad school. When I returned to pursue a PhD (2010), I vowed to make the experience as fun and stress-free as possible. I have certainly had stressful moments over the past three years, but most of them have been fleeting or had to do with situations beyond PhD work proper. Recently, a friend was sharing his experience with the all-too-common slump that most of us endure when we transition from course work to comprehensive exams and the dissertation. Indeed, a large number of students, suddenly faced with the daunting task of going through a rigourous comp exam and a 200-page study, withdraw from their program. Others fall into depression. Still other candidates become completely paralyzed and may go for months without writing (or, hyper-focusing on teaching). No matter where you are in the process, there are strategies you can do to help alleviate some of the anxiety, stress, and feelings of inadequacy. I have listed below ten strategies I use to keep myself focused, motivated, and, for the most part, happy. Whether you are just starting out or are in the last stages of your dissertation and feeling overwhelmed, may they bring you some relief and encouragement!