In the midst of one of the craziest semesters yet, I’ve started to see that I have no game plan for dealing with stress. I’ve noticed my blood pressure climbing in recent check-ups and doctors visits. I’ve been gaining weight, feeling sluggish, and getting sick more frequently.
My emotions fly from one end of the spectrum to the other without any clear cause or explanation. Sometimes I step back from my situation and ask myself why I’m reacting so emotionally. Almost always, I can’t find a reason. I’m convinced that stress plays a huge role. 18 credit hours and a weekend job make for one stress-filled semester, with little time to breathe or discover myself.
In the past week I’ve went from healthy and organized, prepared to register for my final semester of undergrad — to torn apart, suffering from a sinus infection requiring antibiotics, and more distractible than ever. Luckily, all the problems I encountered reached solutions (and I finally registered for those necessary classes thank god).
I wanted to make it to the end of the semester without breaking down. Without losing my shit. Unfortunately, there is only so much stress one person can take . . . especially one with my reactivity. Although, I’m trying to forgive myself for this and see the benefits of my anxiety.
Regardless, I have a job to do for the next week and a half. Finals, my work schedule, and regular appointments and commitments will remain. I’d like to take time off to de-stress, but that’s not happening until May. So, I’m confronted with learning how to manage my anxiety in a constructive way.
Of course, I thought that I was managing quite well. But I’ve really been ignoring the root of the issue, pressing on and becoming a workaholic/time-bomb who never has any fun.
For this reason, I’m listening to the advice I’m given.
1. I’m going to try to step back and assess the situation before a freak out even has the chance to start.
2. I’m going to live a little – sometimes – and not worry about all the deadlines and projects, because there will always be something left to do and I can’t put off my happiness until my list is complete.
3. I’m going to try to like salads. I love pasta, peanut butter, and potatoes more than anything on earth. I love salads, too, as long as there’s a lot of cheese and dressing involved. I don’t know when I stopped loving vegetables. I do know that my health is starting to suffer from my awful appetite and that amazing metabolism I had is changing. So, salads.
4. I’m going to laugh at myself. When I cry, when I fail, when I miss a bus or I’m late for ___. I need to find the humor in even the most disheartening everyday occurrences or else I’m bound to fall apart.
5. I’m going to get more sleep. Duh. I somehow relish the fact that I’ve never taken naps and can get by on 6 hours of sleep. Nothing about that is normal or something to be proud of. Oops…
6. I’m going to learn how to be grateful and start my own gratitude list. (Hey, mom!) All in all, I have a very privileged life. I have a wonderful support system, amazing genetics (regarding my health), and qualities for success and happiness. I’ve just never put those things into a perspective which doesn’t criticize and question. I used to call myself a “realist”, but in reality I’m a pessimist . . . and it’s taken me until now to admit that.
Of course, I’m going to struggle with these changes. It’s going to be difficult and I’ll still probably be my emotional self at the end of it. Mainly, I just want to enjoy life. College has made me responsible and goal-oriented to a fault. I’ve worked on my abilities to the neglect of my human, internal self and I need to recognize that my mind and inner self need care and attention, too.
If anything, I hope you can take from this the importance of loving yourself, your life, and the danger of taking life too seriously. In everything I do, I’ve worried about perfection and efficiency. Human beings are not perfect, and efficiency is a quality I should look for in a household appliance — not a person.
I’m thankful for being who I am because I’ve learned that I’m not perfect. But, I am worthy of love and happiness.
Let’s learn to be grateful – not just for what we do or who we know, but for how we act and how we view our experiences.
Featured image is yet another beautiful view out our window of Lake Michigan, taken a couple weeks ago. I’m so lucky.