“In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.” ~ Fred Rogers
Stress has been my biggest enemy for the past couple of years, especially during my college years. For some reason, stress has become the silver medal that most college students always claimed to have in order to feel like they are achieving. From my personal experience, I would feel uneasy if I have no work to do and I would question myself for being unproductive and being lazy. And if I don’t feel like I am stressing out enough, then I must not be doing what I’m supposed to. So I learned the hard way that my stress level does not define how hard I am working, and the consequences of that lesson were my own health, physically and mentally. And over the course of several years, I’ve learned to manage my own conditions in order to alleviate the stress in my life.
Journaling and Writing Out My Thoughts:
- I have done this so many times during some of the most stressful moments this past semester. I write down all of the stressors that I was facing, and how I was reacting to all of the stressors.
- Stressors vary between individuals, but I think most of them boiled down to work, friends, family, relationships, or school. After writing down my stressors onto paper, I get to see everything in words and it seems more manageable.
- Stress tends to make me go around in circles, and writing them down helps me to reduce the “severity” of the problems. The majority of the time, I think problems seem much bigger because we tend to follow our thoughts, and it tends to exemplify.
- I can make gameplans to target those stressors, which will give me some power over my problems.
Changing My Daily Routine and Environment:
- I always embrace changes especially during prolong stressful times, such as putting in weeks of effort to deliver a project or studying for finals.
- Similar to going into a new year, like those “New Year, New Me” attitude, I think that having slight changes can also have a significant impact that gets you on the “new me high” that motivates you to get better and manage things better.
- Changes in my living environment can be minimal such as changing new beddings, moving some pieces of furniture around, or adding new decorations around the room. These minimal shifts refresh my living environment, which makes me feel excited and motivated to focus on better things.
- Whenever I change my routine, I prefer to add or adjust my routine to make it healthier. Routine changes such as waking 10 minutes in the morning to give yourself more time to prepare for my day, meditating for 10 minutes, taking a nice walk in the morning before getting ready, turning my phone to airplane mode for 1 hour every day so I can focus on your work, spending time to talk to my parents or friends.
Sweating It Out:
- Whether it be dancing, walking, hiking, cleaning, lifting, etc., physical exercises always helped me to get rid of some of my stress and releasing my steam.
- I didn’t get into working out until I started college in 2014, and it has changed my life greatly. When I was younger, I had really bad asthma, so I always avoided doing a lot of physical activities. But as I started college, I wanted to better my health through healthy eating and exercising. I started taking going to the gym a little more seriously, and my asthma has gotten better.
- I also got into weightlifting and being able to see progress on my own body. And it made me realized that my body is capable of doing many things. I learned that it is never too late to start working on yourself and overcoming your worries.
Learning to Say NO:
- This was something that I’ve learned much later on during my college career. There is nothing wrong with wanting to help others and wanting to be there for your loved ones, but if you are only capable of giving an effort level of 7 then you shouldn’t be exerting yourself to give at a level 10.
- My problem was I always change my own plans in order to accommodate others, even when those plans were already set, and it was supposed to be stress-free and easy for myself. So, whenever something like that happened, I would get upset for changing my own plans, feeling resentments toward that individual, and stress out for trying to accommodate their plans by finding another time to fit my own plans in.
- There is no need to justify your reasons to say you can’t accommodate someone’s request.
Unplugging and Being Selective
- Whenever I am going through a difficult time, I always remove myself from many stressful situations, whether it be being surrounded by toxic people or work.
- I would sometimes physically remove myself by running away for a couple of days, and during that time I would be very selective on who I talk to. I look for those who can heal me and give me advice. I realized that it was up to me to get better, and ultimately whatever decisions I need to make, I am making them on my own, and it will mostly have a direct impact on my life, not anyone else’s.
- I set aside emergency money that I would use when needed, which was very useful during my last breakup when I pulled out some money to take myself on a trip to unwind.
Stress is not something that will disappear, I think good stress can motivate us to perform well. By learning how to manage stressors and recognizing them will help us have a better relationship with our stress.