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Burnout

Burnout is a common problem for us graduate students. I was really burned out after quals, but fortunately I rebounded better after prelims, only taking a few weeks to get back to work. After quals I couldn't understand why I couldn't do anything, why my brain was just jello. Then I found out what was wrong from reading Ph.D. comics: post-quals syndrome. While the strip said this was incurable, I found that my prelim / post-prelim syndrome cured my post-quals syndrome - kind of like curing bronchitis by contracting pneumonia.
Well, while there's no sure-fire way of recuperating from burn-out, the following is what I advise my friends to do, in addition to a long vacation:

1. mindless, relaxing activities
2. spiritual meditation & reading good Christian books
3. doing something intellectually engaging but unrelated to your research or studies.
4. thinking / dreaming about life after grad school, even sort of looking at jobs and such

For #1, it can be pretty mindless like playing video games, but it's also helpful to do something that's relaxing but not too mindless, like some TV shows that require some brain use (but not related to your research), e.g., Doctor Who, Torchwood, CSI, Law & Order, Monk... Hey, get addicted for a while, and then come off it and try to do something productive. Sometimes #4 can provide some motivation for getting back to work and finishing school.

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