Share your embarrassing coping strategies!

Jun 11 2014 Published by under grant writing, life in the lab, postdoc, science

Yesterday, MyTChondria tweeted this:

. Symptoms of include: sad, empty, hopeless, tired, irritable, angry, and anxious.

and it got me thinking about how to deal with this constant stress about getting grants funded. As a disclaimer: I know very little about depression in people other than that it is a very serious disease and I am not trying to argue that having a good coping strategy will eliminate your depression. I do know from animal research that studies phenotypes that resemble symptoms of people with a depression that it matters what coping strategy animals use for the severity of their symptoms. I can imagine that the same thing holds true for academia: that the coping strategies we use determine how we feel. Which is why I want to share some of my -embarrassing- coping strategies.

Let's start with the most embarrassing one: When my first paper, the one that made me cry in the lab, was submitted to Biological Psychiatry I very often found myself singing "Biological Psychiatry - oh please God help me!" (to the tune of "One" from Metallica). The paper didn't get in, but I still sometimes sing this song to myself and it reminds me of how relieved I was when we submitted this paper. The paper ended up in another journal of which I also sometimes sing the name of the journal in my head.

Less embarrassing: I often print out awesome data, even if it's very small like a band on a Western blot after some struggle to get the antibody to work, or the first trace of the first cell I recorded, or a significant result, and I paste these on the wall where I can see them every day. It reminds me that things (sometimes) work and that I am producing data.

Please share your (embarrassing) coping strategies in the comments!

5 responses so far

  • katiesci says:

    I don't know if it's embarrassing but whenever I get a great image on the confocal I set it as my desktop background for the same reason you do: to remind myself that things do work sometimes!

    Silly songs are something I do all the time. 😉

    • babyattachmode says:

      Well yeah it doesn't have to be embarrassing of course. Anything to battle anxiety/stress/whatever due to science will do!

  • eeke says:

    I am more "escapist". I don't normally watch tv, but if I'm overwhelmed or have trouble coping, I will watch something stupid on tv. Mindless. Kitten videos help too. And of course embellished with a cocktail to enhance the appreciation.

  • becca says:

    Dude. I tape up all the pretty data on the fridge, just like my kid's pictures at home. This is not embarrassing. Transfecting GFP into cells that don't need it just to see them glow and remind you that you aren't an idiot is embarrassing.

  • Amy says:

    I've cried in the lab before. In front of an honours student while I was a post doc. Now when I'm going to cry I just lock myself in the bathroom. I also cried when an evil lab scooped my project and published it in Science.
    I have a folder of "happy emails" where I file away nice things people have said to me. I also have a bottle of whisky on my desk. Just in case...

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