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During childbirth, the most painful stage of labor is known as transition. As one website puts it, “this is a physically demanding and draining time and you may feel exhausted, frustrated, impatient, and overwhelmed.” Transition comes just before the baby is born, but it can go on for a while and in the moment it often feels more painful than productive.

We seem to be in the transition phase of the semester. The students just came back from spring break; there have been several cases of mumps reported, the weather is terrible, and some bad weather and illnesses put everyone behind before the break. It doesn’t seem as if anyone managed to catch up. We all know that the semester is about to get easier—the weather will improve, the grading will get done, initiatives that need to be completed by semester’s end will start winding down. But right now, “you may feel exhausted, frustrated, impatient, and overwhelmed.”

Breathe deeply. Focus on an object — maybe a book you’re reading, or a plan for the summer. Take a look at your research every now and then. Breathe again. Focus again. 

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