How I Stayed Motivated During Pregnancy

How I Stayed Motivated During Pregnancy

A common question I get asked is “how do you stay motivated during pregnancy”? Often new grad school moms are reaching out because they have just become pregnant but are either distracted by pregnancy or too exhausted to work the same amount of hours. I get it. I experienced both. My first trimester (and even longer – up until about 20 weeks), it was hard for me to even get out of bed. I experienced pretty bad nausea, vomiting and exhaustion. Luckily, that eventually went away but when it did my mind was focused on my babe and I was distracted very easily. Now at 38 weeks, awaiting my baby’s arrival, I am experiencing a mixture of both exhaustion (from lack of sleep, because pregnancy is hard) and distraction (because my life is about to drastically change!).

I wanted to share three things that actually helped me stay motivated. These things might seem like the opposite of being more productive. But in fact, they helped me stay motivated and focused when I was able to put in the time to work.

Scheduled time to think/read/dream about baby and pregnancy

As a first time mom, I knew nothing about what I was going to experience in pregnancy, let alone what it entails to take care of a baby. And as a researcher, all I wanted to do was to read and learn all the things. I had monkey mind and so when I sat down to write, it was really hard to stay focused. What helped was to actually schedule time out of my day to dig into these books and information. I found that if I knew I had a set time to explore and dream, it would be easier for me to return back to my work when my thoughts went elsewhere. And if I was working and I did get distracted, I would write down that thought/question in my notes section on my computer to check back later. Scheduling this time didn’t help me from getting distracted, but it helped me to return back to my work faster when I did get distracted.

Reduced my hours (and was kind to myself about it)

As I mentioned, my first trimester was rough. There was actually no physical way I would have been able to work the same amount of hours. My body just wouldn’t let me. Some days I would only get 1-2 hours of work done, and others it was a write off. But I did what I could, when I could. It was a really challenging time for me. In the second trimester I was able to pick up my regular pace and tried to make up for the time lost, because I had the energy and was motivated to do that. Similarly, into the third trimester I maintained regular work hours. However, with the move and now coming into my last weeks, my hours have reduced again. The point here is, your motivation during pregnancy might ebb and flow and that is okay. Listen to your body and do what you can. Don’t push yourself – you are already doing a lot of work by making that baby of yours!

Rested and took days off when I needed to (and tried not to feel guilty about it)

I think that last point bears repeating – your body is making a baby and is using more of your energy to do so. Your body and your baby are more important than your work. I found that when I set my ego aside and actually listened to my body, took that nap, or day off, I was able to feel more motivated to get back to my work, knowing I took time and prioritized my health. It should always be a priority, pregnant or not.

Everyone’s experience of pregnancy is of course so different. Someone might not experience any challenging symptoms and therefore their schedule may stay the same. Whereas another might be on bedrest for their entire pregnancy. This is what mine looked like and these are the things that helped me. Any grad school mamas out that, share below any strategies that helped you stay motivated during pregnancy.

Until next time,

Christine xo

P.S Don’t forget to use #ScholarCulture #ScholarSquad to keep me updated on your experiences as grad students.

Mental health and my PhD

Mental health and my PhD

DISCLAIMER: This is my story of anxiety and depression. Please consult a doctor or health care practitioner if you are seeking help for your anxiety or depression.

Now entering my fourth year of my PhD. I sit here a bit stunned thinking “how did I get here”? Perhaps it’s because I am entering into my fourth year and only starting my proposal now. Perhaps it’s because I was supposed to get married and couldn’t because of COVID-19. Or perhaps it’s because I can hardly look at myself in the mirror because of the acne on my face and my hair is literally falling out. Whatever it was led me to this question “how did I get here” and had me searching for answers.

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Burnt out before I’ve even started? How I am putting myself before my work

Burnt out before I’ve even started? How I am putting myself before my work

After two and a half years of my PhD, my body feels depleted. Last semester, nothing went to plan, which has made January was one of the hardest months of my PhD this far. I didn’t feel like myself, my body gave up on me and my mind felt against me. How could this be? I have only just finished my course work, I haven’t even started my dissertation! Am I burnt out before I have even started? Today’s blog post will share how I am restoring my body and mind in order to hopefully continue on this PhD marathon.

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Mindset shifts for grad students

Mindset shifts for grad students

The end of a semester is often a busy time for most scholars. The past two months have been especially difficult for me. I am completing my qualifying exams, prepping to teach my first course, working on a research study, and other paid jobs. In times like these, it is easy for me to get caught up in a negative mindset. In this blog post I want to share how I have been trying to shift my negative mindset to a more positive one.

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What a PhD student (actually) eats in a day + healthy, fast & affordable eating tips

What a PhD student (actually) eats in a day + healthy, fast & affordable eating tips

Last week I posted a blog titled ‘what a PhD student (ideally) eats in a day’.  Today’s post is on ‘what a PhD student (actually) eats in a day’. Now this is not to say I eat one way or the other all the time. Realistically, I actually tend to lean more on the ideal side because I prioritize my health within my budget in order to do so. However, sometimes I drink too much wine, eat popcorn for dinner or order take out after a long day. These can be the realities of grad school. This post ends in healthy, fast and affordable eating tips to hopefully make it easier to stay healthy and happy as grad students!

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What a PhD student (ideally) eats in a day

What a PhD student (ideally) eats in a day

Eating healthy is very important to me. I have seen the benefits of what my body can do when I listen to it and fill it with nutritious food. Eating well also means that I have a better chance of managing my anxiety and whatever I can do to balance my anxiety – I will! However, that doesn’t mean that I am always able to eat healthy but I try my best. If are you curious to find out what I eat in an ideal day then just keep reading to find out…

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January Edition: Things I am Loving

January Edition: Things I am Loving

I often get asked about things that are helping me in my studies. These items include, books (both school related and fiction), food, fitness, conscious brands, podcasts and apps/tools. Also, with the @ScholarCulture community continuously growing, scholars often share with me some of the things they are loving too. Sometimes I try them out and if I end up loving them, I want to keep you all updated. Below you will find some of the things I am loving at the moment and things that are helping me through grad school.

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Feeling overwhelmed #gradschoolfeels

Feeling overwhelmed #gradschoolfeels

It’s the end of the semester and it’s safe to say that anyone in grad school is likely feeling overwhelmed right now. So I am not about to take up too much of your time with this post, just some quick tips on how to feel a little less overwhelmed during this busy season.

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Feeling Unmotivated #GradSchoolFeels

Feeling Unmotivated #GradSchoolFeels

We are halfway through this semester which sometimes can bring up feelings of being unmotivated. At the start of this school year, I had so much on my plate I was so overwhelmed it was hard to even start certain tasks. Now, I am currently at a roadblock with my writing which is leading me to a place of procrastination. Needless to say, there are many reasons that can lead you to feel unmotivated. Whatever the reason you are feeling unmotivated, I am hoping the series below can help you start to feel a little bit more focused moving forward in your work.

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