How do you find the time?

In graduate school, I took up crafting — knitting, sewing, embroidering, quilting, making magnets and sock monkeys and jam? I tried them all. I’ve always liked working with my hands, and the grass roots, eco-friendly nature of the DIY movement was really appealing to me. I also enjoyed learning more about what have traditionally been women’s activities. Embroidering science quotes on pillows felt subversive and oddly empowering. I made me feel closer to my grandmother. It gave me something to do. It was a creative outlet. I met new people, and saved money on holiday gifts. My grad student friends and I would meet for weekend stitch-n-bitches and support each other through tough times.

Crafting also helped my mental health. Watching an episode of Buffy or Alias at night to unwind, I’d find myself unable to relax until I discovered that crocheting silenced that persistent little voice saying “Why aren’t you working?” Because I was working! I was making something! My overachieving neurotic brain was just as satisfied by stitches as by words. I was able to relax, and concentrate on Sidney Bristow kicking ass instead of the pervasive feelings that I wasn’t good enough.

When I started my faculty position, I stopped. I don’t know why. It wasn’t intentional, it’s just that self-care is one of the first things to go when you’re busy. Continue reading

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I get by with a little help from myself: making self-care a priority when times get tough

It’s the holidays, which means making the lighting-fast gear shift from last semester’s grading to next January’s grant deadlines, all while navigating the ups and downs of the holiday season. For me, it’s been more downs than ups (family drama, and distance always sucks). I’m feeling the weight of anxiety and depression pretty heavily this season, and a series of rejections hasn’t helped. I’ve had a really hefty travel schedule, too. I still haven’t replaced the social safety net I had in graduate school, and I’m feeling pretty isolated. For better or worse, I’m not feeling very resilient right now.

And yet that’s exactly what I need to feel, to bolster myself for a new semester (two new courses to prep!), and three NSF deadlines in January, and manuscripts to write, and students who need me to be a rock through their yough times, too. Plus, given the long turnaround times of papers and grants, I’m already thinking about next year’s review even though I just turned in this year’s (it was really positive, but I hear the Year 3 reviews are brutal in comparison).

Anyone who knows me well knows that I don’t like to wallow; I try to give myself space to feel what I’m feeling, and then I shift gears, make plans and work on moving on. So, how does an occasionally depressed-and-grumpy academic get by? Continue reading

Do your ho-ho-homework: TSW’s gift guide for the academic on your holiday shopping list

The holidays can be a great time to show your appreciation for the academic in your life. The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s has always been one of my absolute favorites– the celebrations, the festive atmosphere, gatherings with friends and loved ones, decorations, the first snow, delicious food and seasonal cocktails (I happen to love eggnog and spiced rum). For academics, however, it’s also a particularly stressful time. As a grad student, I had course and grading obligations, plus financial stress often meant I could’t travel, or couldn’t afford gifts. As a faculty, November marked the beginning of my major grant-writing season, and moving across the country for my job means my partner and I are celebrating without our closest friends and loved ones. While the holidays are a time for much-needed restoration for everyone, they’re also a great opportunity to give your favorite academic a little love and support.

If you’re celebrating a gift-giving ritual this season and you’ve got a stressed-out, overworked academic on your list, fear not! Tenure, She Wrote is here to help with your gift-giving needs. I asked our blogging team what they’d love to unwrap this year. Continue reading