Emotional fitness

sunrise landscape, golden colours with trees and cows in background

Winter is truly upon us. Flu season is too, on top of the coronavirus. Apart from ensuring I’m up to date with all my COVID and flu vaccines and generally keeping my body healthy, is there something that can help with my emotional fitness?

I write best in the dark hours of the morning – before dawn, before the distractions of the rat race truly begin. Now that the chill of winter has arrived, I’ve started to struggle with the 4 am golden time. Should I re-visit the 4am hour, look at sleeping in? It’s so tempting but I know through many, many years of trial and error that 4am, although a bit painful, is what really works best for me.

I recall my years as an undergraduate and part of a competitive soccer team. Practice would start way before the sun rose. Waking up was always a struggle but as soon as I was on the pitch, running laps with my teammates to warm up, it would not take long until I started feeling really empowered. My body loved it, and my spirit too. Our coach would always have some fresh, warm bread for us at the end of practice. He’d leave it with us and we’d all have a roll in our mouth as we walked to the locker rooms and shower.

It was empowering to get one of the hard things done so early in the day. I’d walk out of our team locker rooms and be mentally ready to tackle my first class of the day. Maybe emotional fitness requires some of that same commitment to getting the harder things done first. It might be painful waking up at 4am in the middle of winter but it’ll empower me for the rest of the day. Maybe I could also trial cold showers in the morning? I’ll have to check with my GP, but I’ve heard that cold showers improve circulation and might help strengthen the immune system. Add to that giving your body a jolt bringing you to a higher level of alertness.

So, cold showers in the morning before two golden hours of thesis-writing? And then maybe Trumbo style or Winston Churchill style writing in the evening to ease into night?

(Gosh. All the things Ph.D. students try to get writing done!)

Tagged in What messes with your head, phd, Productivity, mental health