It’s summer! While summer vacation as a graduate student doesn’t have the same allure of freedom it once did when you were a kid, it can (hopefully) still be a time of a little more relaxation than during the school year. It can also be a time to brush up on fundamentals like research skills or work on something new. When you’re writing a dissertation or thesis, the summertime can be a welcome distraction or respite. Working on a long-term research project is often nothing more than a test of perseverance; here are some ways to utilize the summertime to recharge your internal battery so that you’re ready to go back to your dissertation/thesis, raring to go.
Longer days, nice weather, and some more free time are a great combination. If you’re able to, why not get out of the house and get some fresh air and vitamin D? Take a walk, go for a bike ride, play in the park with your kids, eat lunch outside on your break – just get out of the house or the office. You might be pleasantly surprised at how refreshing and invigorating it can be to spend time in the open air, and the sunlight is a natural mood enhancer. Exercise can also help refocus you and give you a second wind.
Be with others
No person is an island – it’s easy to become isolated while immersed in research and writing, but socializing with other people is important for mental and emotional health. With the advent of social media, spending time online on Facebook, or texting with friends often takes the place of actual, in-person socializing – but it’s not the same. Call a friend and meet up in “real life.” Spend time with friends and family, in person.
Give your brain a (short) break
Man (and woman) cannot survive on schoolwork alone. It’s a good idea any time of the year to take a short brain break, but the summertime is an especially good time. It’s okay to pick a weekend to treat yourself to a Netflix binge, or completely set aside your research for a few days. Why not read something fun, like a beach read, something from the NYT best-seller list, or a classic you’ve always been meaning to read? Sometimes taking a break from your work and then coming back to it with fresh eyes and thoughts can lead to a breakthrough.
Try something new
If you normally study mathematics, why not take a class or a workshop in art history? Writing a dissertation on education? Try a dance class. New experiences help broaden our horizons and help pull us out of boredom. As the saying goes, life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
Cultivate an attitude of gratitude
It’s easy to become stressed and panicky while working on your dissertation. Taking the time to focus on things you’re grateful for can help you reframe and appreciate the moment. There’s always something to be grateful for, and when you’re frustrated or discouraged, every positive thing can help.
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