THE ALL-BUT-DISSERTATION SURVIVAL GUIDE(tm)
Devoted to practical steps for completing your
To subscribe, visit www.abdsurvivalguide.com
1. Ben's note
2. 10 Tips To Manage Anxiety
By Dr. Rachna D. Jain
3. Inspired to Write? Contribute to the ABDSG
4. Request for Dissertation Friendly Resources
5. Words of Wisdom
6. Inspirational Quote
In this issue, our editor, Dr. Rachna D. Jain contributes
ten tips to help you manage anxiety. You will want to
refer back to this article more than once when you feel
yourself becoming anxious.
If you know of dissertation friendly resources or if
you're inspired to write, consider contributing to the
We round out this issue with Words of Wisdom & an
December 16, 2004
Dear ABD Survival Guide Reader,
As we come to the end of another year, I just
want to take a minute to thank you all for
sharing your journey with us. We appreciate
you and all your comments and feedback on
how we can continue to make the ABDSG
even more valuable and relevant.
Given that we're just in the holiday season,
and, if you're anything like me, you have
too much to do, and not enough time, it's
possible that you might be feeling some
anxiety. This issue's feature article
offers ten tips for dealing with
dissertation (or any other) type of
Again, we ask for your continued assistance
in compiling dissertation friendly resources
and invite you to write and share your
experiences with other ABDSG readers. So
many of you have requested the guidelines
that we're really looking forward to
receiving your contributions.
>From myself, my family, and all of us
here at the ABDSG, we wish you and yours
See you in two weeks.
P.S. If you are a helping professional interested in
coaching, please visit www.mentorcoach.com. If you are a
professional from any other discipline interested in
coaching, please visit www.ecoach.com
10 Tips To Manage Anxiety
By Rachna D. Jain, Psy.D.
Anxiety during the dissertation is fairly common. This
is a huge project which means many things - the completion
of a long, sometimes arduous educational process, moving
on to “real life”, taking your place in the world of scholars -
so it’s no surprise that something so important can also
feel really overwhelming. These ten tips will help you take
a break from anxiety and shift it into something more positive
that you can work with. These tips are meant to be actively
used so try them out!
1) Practice diaphragmatic breathing regularly, more often
when you feel anxious.
Diaphragmatic breathing is a form of deep stomach breathing
which is linked to increased feelings of calmness and
relaxation. Focus on taking breaths which are based and
centered in your midsection - around the level of your belly
button. Focus on having your stomach go “out” when you take
a breath “in”. Do this 5-8 times to help calm and center you.
Regular practice can be very beneficial.
2) Practice reframing the anxiety as something positive.
Anxiety is a sign that you’re moving out of your comfort
zone and stretching into a new place of growth and excitement.
So try on the perspective that the anxiety is showing you
that you’re moving and growing. It’s not something to be
feared, it’s something that’s helping you move closer to
what you really want.
3) If your anxiety is overwhelming or debilitating, seek
Sometimes, you feel anxious and worried and helpless and
stuck and this feeling doesn’t get better and it doesn’t
go away. If your anxiety disrupts any of your daily routines -
you can’t sleep or sleep too much, don’t eat regularly oreat
too much, or you feel irritated or sad or unhappy most of the
time, these are cues that you might benefit from seeking
professional help. A skilled mental health professional can
provide you with information, skills, support & coping
strategies to move through this.
4) Get moving!
When you feel anxious, one of the best things you can do
is get your body moving. Take a quick walk around the
neighborhood, go to the gym, anything! Moderate exercise
will release chemicals which make you feel good and physical
activity generally demands the full diaphragmatic breathing
which can also help relax you further.
5) Take responsibility for yourself and what you need.
This is one of the most important points. If you feel
anxious, this is a sign from yourself that something is
not feeling right. It might be something real, or something
feared. Whichever it is, take the steps to work on it or
manage it as soon as possible. If you need a break, take one.
If you need to call a friend, do it. If you need quiet time,
plan it. Make certain you are always working from a place of
getting what you need from each situation.
6) Keep to your word. Deliver what you promise.
One of the most powerful, and most (theoretically) simple
concepts to reduce anxiety is to practice keeping your word.
Many times, we promise ourselves something and then we don’t
do it, which makes us feel worse! We get caught up in a cycle
of rationalization and feeling stuck. You can change this,
by only promising yourself what you’re sure you will do.
It is better, by far, to set a very small goal, and meet
it, than to set a grand goal and fall very short.
7) Find yourself doing something right. Acknowledge this.
Too often, we focus on all the “bad” things, or “not good
enough” things. This makes us feel more anxious because we
feel worse and worse about ourselves. Instead, begin to shift
your focus to all the things you do right each day whether
it’s eating breakfast or brushing your teeth. Acknowledge
yourself for all the things that you’re good at such as aspects
that are going well and make you happy. It is difficult to be
anxious when you’re tapping into some good aspects about
yourself and your life.
8) Schedule a “worry hour” each day.
In this hour, you do nothing but worry. You worry about
your life, your writing, your pets, your family, your friends,
your laundry, your dishes, the state of your relationship -
anything at all. Worry, worry, worry. At the end of the hour,
you’re not allowed to worry any more for the rest of the day.
You’ve already used up all your worry minutes. This is a great
strategy for limiting worried thinking and keeping it from
permeating all your other tasks. Plus, as many of my clients
have reported, they get sick of the “worry hour” after about
9) Avoid “all or nothing” or “black/white”thinking about
“My dissertation will never be done if I don’t spend 18
hours a day on it.” “I have to read EVERYTHING ever
written so this is good enough.” Statements that have
the words: “always”, “never”, “should”, “ever” are good
indicators for all or nothing type thinking. Practice
replacing “all or nothing” thoughts with phrases like,
“ I’m working consistently and this is great.” Or “I really
care about this, which is why I’m so invested”.
Less “all or nothing” thinking = less anxiety.
10) Learn to let go of the past.
Quite often, people who struggle with anxiety have
trouble in letting go of past mistakes or events.
They tend to carry around a lot of guilt about things
they did, things they didn’t do, things they thought of
doing but didn’t, things they didn’t think of doing and
didn’t, things… well, you get the idea. Practice living
in this moment, here and now. This is a valuable skill
to learn both for the dissertation and for your life.
Overall, know that you can manage your anxiety. Start
by using these tips and seeking whatever additional
support or structure you need. You can succeed in this
project and feel good at the same time. Aim for this best
of both worlds. You can do it!
[The above tips were excerpted from "Get It Done!
A Coach's Guide to Dissertation Success"
By Dr. Rachna D. Jain, copyright 2002.]
About Rachna D. Jain, Psy.D.
Rachna is the Editor of the All But Dissertation
Survival Guide and the author of two related
books: Get it Done: A Coach's Guide to Dissertation
Success 2002) and Get it Done Faster: Secrets of
Dissertation Success 2004), which have been adopted
as required reading by several universities. Rachna
is a recognized expert on goal setting and achievement,
and is quoted regularly in the national media. Having
now coached more than 53 ABD's to write their
dissertations in a year or less, her personal best
as a coach is zero to finished dissertation in five
She can be reached online at:
Inspired to Write? Contribute to the ABDSG
We'd like to issue an open invitation for all recent
Ph.D.'s, faculty advisors, university professors,
consultants, graduate students and writing coaches to
share your personal insights and wisdom regarding the
dissertation process. If you'd like to write for the
ABDSG, please contact email@example.com to request
our guidelines and list of possible topics. You can
also view our archives at http://www.abdsurvivalguide.com
to see what we've recently published and/or to get some
We look forward to broadening our knowledge base through
When you share what you know, we all benefit.
Thanks in advance-Ben & the ABDSG staff
Request for Dissertation Friendly Resources
In our ongoing efforts to make the ABDSG even more useful
for you, our readers, we're in the process of compiling
dissertation helpful resources in all categories. Do you
have editors, statistics consultants, software, books, or
other resources that you're using and are finding valuable?
If so, can you please share this information with Rachna
(firstname.lastname@example.org), and she'll put together a
compilation of resources, posted on our website, so you can
find everything you might need - all in one place.
Again, please send any relevant and helpful resources to
email@example.com and please put ABDSG Resource in the
Thanks in advance for your help.
Words of Wisdom
My advice to students in the early stages is to surround
yourself with people who can support you and
eliminate people who cannot support you from (at least)
the immediate future of your life.
Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of
it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.
~~Henry Ward Beecher
Your Own Coach
If you are considering whether to get your own coach
to help you reach your academic goals, send any email to:
BEN DEAN, Publisher, ABDSG
Ben holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University
of Texas at Austin. He is the founder of MentorCoach
(www.MentorCoach.com) a virtual university training
accomplished mental health professionals to become
He is also founder of eCoach (www.ecoach.com) which
helps interdisciplinary professionals become coaches.
Ben lives in suburban Maryland with his wife and two
young children, and Walnut, their hamster.
RACHNA D. JAIN, Editor, ABDSG
I'm a dissertation coach and licensed psychologist
based in Maryland, with a doctorate from the University
of Denver. I'm the Editor of the ABDSG, as well as the
Author of "Get It Done! A Coach's Guide to Dissertation
Success" and "Get it Done Faster: Secrets of Dissertation
Success". If you'd like to learn more about me or my
books, please visit my website:
If you have questions about this newsletter, you can
direct them to me:firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm excited to be working with you to meet your academic
goals. You can do it!
THE ALL-BUT-DISSERTATION SURVIVAL GUIDE(tm)
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