Slightly more serious post than my other ones, but this one is something I think a good number of students (at least university/college students) may find important.
I am going to get this out of the way and say I don’t do stress well.
Or rather, I stress well, I don’t DEAL with stress well. Here’s how I think of my stress dealings:
I bottle it up, store it away since its so unpleasant to deal with. Later, when I once again get stressed, I bottle that up too, even as the aftershocks of the feeling shake up the last bottle of stress.
Unlike real life, the tremors of stress stay with me, though I ignore it, and so it slowly shakes the second, and eventually third, fourth, fifth bottles up as well, building up pressure that I also ignore (as I am so very good at it) until the bottles I use start having trouble containing it.
I feel like, at least right now, the bottles I use are plastic. Later, if I keep doing this, the bottles may be made of glass. I don’t know.
When, eventually, the bottles fizz and explode so that I have stress colouring everything, making everything sticky and gross and makes me feel like doing nothing else but clean up and throw away the stress, I do so. It is, after all, hard to focus on anything else when you have sticky, gross stress all over you.
I ignore everything else, I have trouble concentrating, I have this overwhelming urge to do nothing, to go do something else that will make me feel better, like maybe watch comedy skits, or watch shows I know I like and episodes I know are funny, or read something totally random, or something else entirely.
I’ve been working on this example and been trying to self-analyze in a realistic, objective way, and I know that I need to work on a better way of dealing with stress than bottling it up and storing it away.
The reason I say I believe my bottles to be plastic right now, is because when the bottles explode from stress overload, broken plastic doesn’t hurt or cut nearly as deeply as glass.
Wow, that sounded a bit dark, huh?
I’m just trying to say that this tendency of mine to put away stress could develop into a worse problem, or could cause me to ignore something important because it happens to be stressful.
To help counteract that, I’m doing a number of things.
I’m trying to schedule myself better (made a schedule for the week, having classes, study times, break times, etc…). Hopefully by having something steady and schedule like in my life, I’ll have something to hold ono.
Yoga, once a week. Similar to the schedule, by having yoga, it’s consistent and, unlike the schedule, something physical. If I need to do something more exerting, I can get onto one of the exercise machines and go on for an hour.
Phone conversation with Mom at least once a week. I am used to having a support system on hand. I don’t like talking about stress to friends, because I don’t like making my friends
feel uncomfortable. It isn’t like I’m going to be able to talk to my roommates after all. I hardly ever see them, and even if I did, I don’t particularly like them. As such, my support system is my family. I need to be able to talk with them. So I’m making sure that at least once a week, there will be a conversation. To just talk. About nothing in particular. About things happening at home, things happening in Ottawa, allowing Mom to complain about her school while I can talk about how wonderful it is to be skating. I think it’s helping. No guarantee though. Midterms are stressful.
Writing. I know it isn’t the best thing, but writing here, on a blog, is almost surprisingly stress-releasing. Even if I don’t talk about stress. To be able to put my thoughts out to an invisible crowd, it’s nice. I also still write fiction for my own, and fanfiction because I enjoy getting reviews. It helps that most reviews are positive and are very encouraging and you can’t feel useless when you get an enthusiastic review for one of your ideas. Hell, I have a number of people who review regularly for my story ‘It’s Green‘ (Harry Potter Fanfiction and yes I linked to my own story) and I can go on for endless replies in conversation with these people who I only know because they like something I’ve written enough to contact me. How awesome is that?
By the way, Mom doesn’t like that I write fanfiction, but it’s a stress reliever for me. I enjoy writing. I didn’t do NaNoWriMo this year because I promised I wouldn’t, but writing is one of my hobbies. I’m not giving it up. I’m glad my Mom understands that. Or at least I believe she does.
Aaah, stress, you give me such issues!
Boy do I need to work on this, and I believe that this IS helping, but i’s hard to be objective in things such as these. I’ve been thinking on this for so long that I could be imagining everything, and I’m sure that some invisible person out there reading this is thinking I am imagining everything, or explaining it unrealistically, or SOMETHING, but this is as close to the ‘truth’ of the matter as I can get to.
It’s very hard being objective when dealing with yourself.
I think that’s one reason why self-portraits are so hard to do. You try to make it better because you’re vain (don’t try to deny it) and want to look pretty.
Or cool, if you aren’t quite ready to admit that you think you’re pretty.
But, as I said before, I don’t do (dealing with) stress well.
But, because I’ve been able to recognize it well enough… I am also going to recognize that I need a break.
Not a full one, more like slowing down to a jog from a sprint, but a break none the less.
Next semester, my hesitant plan is to take a break from school, move back to Toronto, and (with the permission of uOttawa) take a course while in Toronto so that I’m not totally removed from doing class work.
It will be one semester, and a break from full-time class. This will be me working to get used to stress of university, while having my support system with me.
I don’t know if I would have done better having taken the first year off, but this is what I’m doing now.
I wish I had my own time machine, to go back to the beginning of the school year, maybe then I could have done a better job, but since I don’t, I’m giving myself a chance to breathe.