Exam month survival guide

  • Move slowly through the days. Rushing only increases feelings of panic.
  • Self-compassion, self-compassion, self-compassion. It’s okay you didn’t have a great teaching day the day after your exam. It’s okay you’ve felt empty and sad inside ever since exam day. It’s okay you’ve had chocolate cake every night since exam day. You are okay. Your feelings are okay.
  • Eat the chocolate cake. Skip the workout. There really is always next week in this case.
  • Resume uplifting podcasts. Two good ones this week: Krista Tippet’s interview with Brene Brown and Jonathan Fields’s interview with Stan Tatkin.
  • You might lie on the couch under a blanket every day for an hour when you get home from campus, but unlike in the past, you know this will not last forever.
  • Don’t hold it in. Rely on friends. Ask for what you need.
  • You did this really hard thing and people believe in you. You had to believe in you; otherwise, you wouldn’t have done it.
  • It’s okay in this case to daydream about a future in which you are happier. People say, oh, well, writing a dissertation also sucks, but I say, I don’t think it can be as bad as this. It will at least be mine. And I don’t have to write it in a day.
  • Hugs, comfort food (see cake above), fresh air, romantic comedies. Reliable happy endings are therapeutic.
  • Take a Lyft home from campus because the 45-minute commute in the rain just isn’t going to cut it today.
  • Tell your therapist how wretched it all is for the fiftieth time. She knows.
  • Don’t apologize for what must seem like melodrama to anyone who hasn’t done it.
  • Trust and gratitude. I chose this. I did this. I am doing this.
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