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.

30 Day Writing Challenge

30 Day Writing Challenge

Who is ready for another writing challenge? I know I am.

I have to get a solid first draft done for a published chapter, that I am working on in a team – by the end of August. I thought a writing challenge would be a great way to motivate me and hold me accountable. So, if this sounds like something you need too, I hope you will join me!

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Losing motivation after a major milestone

Losing motivation after a major milestone

A pattern I’ve started to notice in my PhD is that every time I finish a big milestone, such as completing coursework, my qualifying exam, and now my proposal, I often lose motivation after it is complete. At first, I shrugged this off as me needing to take a break and nothing more. And I think that is part of it. It is necessary for us PhD students to rest or else this marathon will not be sustainable. We also need to recognize the difference between only needing a break and signs of burnout. After my qualifying exam, I was burnt out. But this time it is different. After completing my proposal, a goal I have been working on for so long, when I began to return to my work I was missing that sense of challenge, excitement, and stimulation. So, if you are finding yourself reading this after a major milestone, first off – congratulations. Secondly, whether you are experiencing burnout or simply just need some guidance to work towards your next goal, below I share some tips that help me get back to a routine after I finish a big accomplishment and hope they can help you too.

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How I am *trying* to stay motivated during COVID-19

How I am *trying* to stay motivated during COVID-19

Heading into week four of quarantine, I have a variety of feelings and thoughts – per usual. First and foremost, for anyone who has been personally impacted by COVID-19, I want to say I am thinking about you and sending you love. Secondly, for anyone on the front lines – from doctors, nurses, to those working at my local grocery store, I want to say thank you for all your work with those who are sick and for allowing us to have access to our essential services.

This post is not groundbreaking, I have shared all these tips before. As a PhD student, working from home has been my speciality. But, working from home during a pandemic, now thats new.  These tips are  simple reminders that are helping me stay motivated during quarantine.

I also want to put a disclaimer here; these tips are helping me, this is not to say the will help you too. Everyone’s life is so unique right – you could be experiencing job loss, or if you might be having to juggle work and homeschooling your children. But something we are  sharing right now is experiencing communal trauma. And for us PhD’s, we still have to continue our studies despite it. Here are a few things that are keeping me motivated.

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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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Tips for Working from Home

Tips for Working from Home

Hi Scholar Friends, I know it has been a while. I am deep in the midst of my qualifying exams and I am taking a break to write this important post. After finishing my coursework in the spring, I have officially moved onto the isolation component of my PhD. Everything I do from this point on is, well pretty much, on my own. My work space consists of a 9×9 room in my 500 square foot apartment, with no door and no windows. But it is a designated space, and I have the necessities. I have found working from home more difficult than I expected. I had worked from home before but never 7 days a week. Over the past few months I have figured out some strategies that have helped me in this journey. Below you will find some of my top 5 tips for working from home.

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Career Conversation on YouTube

Career Conversation on YouTube

Last week I was featured on Career Conversations. I completed an interview with Stefanie and during we discussed everything from mental health, time management and blogging during my PhD. In this blog post, you will find a link to the full video, as well as an overview of the key takeaways. Continue reading “Career Conversation on YouTube”

Time Management Tips for PhD Students

Time Management Tips for PhD Students

This blog post needs no introduction. If you are a grad student, time always feels scarce . I often feel like I don’t have enough time. My only option then is to make the most efficient and effective use of what I do have. Here are my top ten tips for making the most out of my time.

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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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