Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Stress and Coping

I find it interesting that I find that my research interest can be categorized in the field of psychology as a study in stress and coping when that's how I feel this semester--I'm stressed and coping to get through.
The purpose of today's posting is more to serve myself: to visualize my stressors in order to organize a coping strategy now and to show my future self how the last semester of courses felt.  Hopefully, I will be less stressed a year or so from now.

List of Concerns in order of my brain's dedication from most to least

  1. The physical, mental, and psychological wellbeing of my family
  2. Comprehensive exams
  3. Research proposal (and course assignments related to it)
  4. Current and immediate future income (paying the bills)
  5. Future employment in 2012-13
  6. My daughter's schooling
  7. Presentations and publications
  8. Course assignments not related to my research proposal
  9. Future employment once I obtain PhD
  10. Teaching assistantships
  11. Visiting family and friends
  12. Maintaining the house (cleaning chores)
  13. Planning getaway trips for spring break and early summer
  14. The world economy and its effects on my profession
  15. My social life in Iowa City
  16. The direction of my country
By the start of the fall semester, I hope to have removed numbers 2, 5, 8, and 10 from the list, and reorganizing the rest except for #1.  There is a strong relationship between numbers 5 and 10, so I hope to have at least one of them removed to enjoy a slightly less stressful end of 2012.

One way to analyze this list is to see how much of it is in my control.  Another way to analyze it is to see how much of it is in the present moment.  What can I do about these things now?  I am strongly tempted to answer "not enough."  I feel guilty if I'm not doing anything to improve these conditions unless it's after 8pm when I am too exhausted to solve problems well.

Someone should investigate the adverse effects of going through a PhD program.  Perhaps when I'm finished, I can quantify the sacrifices (material and immaterial) and compare them to the rewards of the degree.  Am I setting myself up for surprise or disappointment or is there another emotional response?

The good news now is that I am not giving up and that thought is very far removed at this point.

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