Breathe in, breathe out.
I wake up and go to school. During my off blocks I’m either writing for my blog, a paper that’s due in school, or HelloFlo. I get home and eat dinner. After dinner I do homework and apply for scholarships and go on my future college’s student page looking for updates about the orientation and cost of living and roommates.
My cuticles hate me due the inevitability of me picking them bloody. Major projects are done three weeks ahead of time. Guilty pleasure, not-for-review reads hold a special place on the Kindle app on my phone. Watercolor stains are etched in the wood of the window seat in my room. My vocal cords get tighter and tighter, closing slowly as my stress level increases. Right now, as I look around my room, I can easily see 12 to-do lists taped onto my bedroom walls.
These are all the ways my stress eats at me. None of them are the picture of health, even if a few of them are semi-productive.
I think it’s interesting how my “have to have all my work done and done well ahead of the due date” behavior is a coveted academia skill among my group of friends, when in reality, I’m pretty sure it’s not healthy. The way I obsess and frantically slave over my grades is far from stress-free. Once my grades drop below my set of standards, everything else in my life gets shoved aside until they’re back to where I believe that they are supposed to be.
However, while this progression continues with bloody cuticles, there are times when everything is just so completely overwhelming that I just stop feeling. My emotions are completely shut down. This is my mind’s defensive mechanism, and I guarantee that is always does more harm than good. This is apparently common, but there’s got to be a better way of dealing with the stress of day-to-day life.
Recently, I’ve started focusing more on healthy stress relief as I’ll be off to college this coming fall. I like being happier; this is one of the benefits I am able to reap from these techniques.
One thing you can do to combat stress is to simply get up and move around: work out. Go take a jog. Join a free yoga class. Seriously, they’re all over the place. I’ve included 30 minutes at the end of my days where I lift weights and do various core workouts. And, does it ever feel fantastic.
2. Have a Time Set Aside for You
Make a time in the day for you time. My problem is that when I start a book and I’m stressed, it turns into a method of avoidance. Set a 30-minute timer to read a book, or watch the next episode of that Netflix series that you’re addicted to. Have a smoothie or a cup a tea. Take this time to just breathe. I’ve gone into taking 20-minute breaks when I have long bouts of homework to complete. After the break, I’m better able to focus on the task at hand and end up doing a better job had I worn myself to the bone and finished it all in one sitting.
3. Sleep (Seriously!)
Another helpful combatant of stress is sleep. As much as I would love to say that I always get my prescribed 8 to 9 hours of sleep, but that would be a complete lie. I do—sometimes. Other times it’s more like five.
Sleep is when your body heals. You’re digesting your food, replacing skin cells, and allowing your body to recover. Sleep is when you let you body focus solely on it’s own health. I don’t necessary wake up refreshed and rejuvenated, but I am able to get through the day without wondering how much longer I have until I’m back in bed. I find that if I go to bed early and then wake up early, my mood is bettered and my stress is lowered.
4. Seek Help
If you need to, see a specialist about your stress. There may be an underlying issue that needs to be dealt with. There are so many resources that are there to be used. You’ll find one, and you’ll thank yourself later when you can breathe again.
Stress is something that everyone deals with. I deal with it in occasionally unhealthy ways, but I’m working on it. It’s something that can be worked on, and it’s worth working on. With all the options, you’re bound to find one that works for you. My thoughts are more clear, and they’re more my own rather than the voice manned by my stress that seems to occasionally reside in my thoughts.
When you’re having a hard day and the stress is eating at you, it’s the best time to take a break for yourself or do a quick workout. This is important, even if you feel you don’t have the time. For me, the fact that I take the time to do these things allows me to get done what I need to get finished more efficiently.