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Sometimes, there are experiences in the dissertation process which become a crisis (or, at least, feel like one.) Examples might be related to your family- as in someone in your family gets sick; or they may be related to the dissertation more specifically; as in your advisor trashes your idea in front of the whole committee, leaving you uncertain about who is friend and who is foe. Since I believe that whatever is happening in your life gets reflected in your dissertation process, I’d like to offer some tips for managing your stress in times of crisis. And, since I never write about things I haven’t personally experienced, I wanted to share how I’ve managed a recent crisis in my family, which arose after my Dad had some unexpected complications from recent surgery. He’s being treated at one of the best hospitals in the world, so I have no doubt he’ll be back to 100% very soon. What I did notice was how stressful this situation has been. It was stressful on the day of surgery, and then it’s been a roller-coaster of emotions since he was readmitted to the hospital last week. His body is taking its time to get back online, but, in the meantime, our family is shuttling between the hospital and home, and trying to carry on as usual. This got me thinking about some tips for stress management during crisis. I know that many of us have parents, grandparents, or young children, who may, at some time, require greater levels of care. Here are some things that worked for me to better manage my stress during this time- I hope some of these are helpful to you, too: 1) I slept as much as possible. This wasn’t all that easy, with late night trips to the hospital and sitting in the ICU for hours, but I did try to sleep as much as I could, whenever I could. 2) I cut down on all my other commitments. I had two family weddings to attend last weekend (standard Indian ones, which means lots of people, lots of events, and lots of socializing over several days). I politely declined and didn’t go. This gave me some much needed space to get some sleep (see #1) 3) I avoided talking too much about what was happening. For some people, it can be helpful to talk things out. For me, at least this time, I didn’t want to talk about it too much- and I let that be OK. I think I just needed to conserve my energy. 4) I kept the focus on what I could control. I tried to maintain as normal a routine as possible and to give myself lots of extra time to get things done. 5) I took breaks from the hospital. I would walk outside for a few minutes, or sometimes skip a day in visiting (as long as I knew someone else would be visiting my Dad that day) And, finally, I kept my thoughts positive. I visualized my Dad healing and coming home soon. It didn’t always work, but was much, much better than thinking negatively. Now, this might seem funny to put on a dissertation focused blog, but I think these stress management tips are valuable, no matter what kind of stress you’re experiencing. Whether it’s a minor stress or a major one, these tips will help you cope more easily. When in crisis, take an active role in your stress management; this will keep a bad situation from getting any worse. ***** Some of you have asked: you can get more information about the dissertation coaching membership site here.