Stressbusters

Sammy disapproving of her bowling ball's course of action.

“There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.” ~ Sylvia Plath.

I remain amazed by the quantity of visits I’ve received over the last few days.  People are reading me! … Or at least clicking on something that brings them to my blog!  Yippee-kai-ay!

So, this is the time of year where everything gets really nuts for college students.  Of course, it depends on what college you go to, but for me?  I just finished my finals (one year left!  Eek!) and I know that I’ve had a headache for the last three days that won’t go away.  It has inspired me to write about stress-induced illness.  Now me?  I never get headaches.  Heck, I’m one of the lucky ones (ladies, don’t kill me) who gets her period every month ache-and-pain-free.  Throughout this last semester, I have been very stressed, between work, my internship, school (all of which run like three part-time jobs, giving me between 60 and 90 hours every week) and a social life and finances and… well, need I continue?  I’ve been getting many-day-long headaches on and off throughout the semester, at my most stressful times.  They’re tension headaches – I get them from straining my eyes (late-night study sessions), grinding my teeth (frustration) and general overwork.  I know a lot of people get them because of stress.

When people are stressed, the immune system is weakened.  People who are immensely stressed do not take care of their bodies as well.  If nothing else, the body cannot rest because the mind is reeling even in sleep states.  Wearing down the immune system has all sorts of aversive effects, such as neurological disorders, high blood pressure, and asthma.  Even something as simple as the common cold can be considered a stress-related illness.  You’re much more likely to catch even common illnesses when you’re overworked and stressed.  Some people overeat when they are stressed; other people don’t need enough.  In short?  Stress does your body absolutely no good.  Some people call it “pressure,” but in the end, it all wears down on your mind and body.

So, seriously?  How do we avoid stress?  Is it even possible?  I mean, the 40-hour-work-week is becoming a thing of the past unless you’ve got enough money to sustain yourself because you’re a CEO; most people are working two jobs, not counting general things like housekeeping.  Even after that, how many people have energy to come home and do anything but plop like blob on to the sofa and stare brainlessly at the tube for a few hours before dozing off?  Well, God knows I’m a hypocrite, because I don’t have the time or motivation sometimes to do anything but plop, but here are some suggestions for the strong at heart.

  1. Journalling. Whether you use the “oldie but goodie” pen and paper or you type in a WordPress blog, give yourself a space where you can safely get your thoughts and emotions out.  A lot of time, bottled rants build more stress than we need to have weighing down on our shoulders.
  2. Meditation. I don’t mean putting your legs in the lotus position and humming “om” (though you can do that, if it works for you).  Mind a place that you find peaceful and quiet and let yourself reflect.  Once you’re done reflect, just put everything out of your mind and be in the moment, in the space.  Vanquish your worries.  It’s great for realigning your zen.
  3. Pace yourself. If you hate coming home to a sink of dirty dishes after work… don’t do it.  Wash your dishes as soon as you’re done with them, pick up after yourself as you go.  Otherwise, yes, you’re giving yourself an hour of “I will do nothing my sit here” time, but you’re also giving yourself the insta-panic! of “ohmygoodnessIhavesomuchtodo!”  Doing the little things when they come up will make a big difference.
  4. Make time to do something you love. Don’t let anything else interfere with this time.  Whether it be that half-hour long bubble bath after work or a chapter in the book you’re reading or a few holes on the golf course this weekend… make sure to promise yourself that little escape.  And don’t let anything get in its way.
  5. Procrastinate tomorrow. If you know you’ve got a due date that’s going to sneak up on you, don’t let it.  It may be boring and even a little stressful to do that assignment now… but it’ll be a lot of stressful and still boring to do it hours before it’s due.
  6. Avoid binging. Whether it be eating a lot or buying a lot, I promise you, you’ll regret it later and it’ll stress you out more.  So avoid it for the now.  Maybe exercise instead.  Or call an old friend you haven’t heard from in a while.
  7. Just say “no”. If Cindy Lou calls up and asks you to host a bachelorette party at your pad on your only night off… don’t do it.  I mean, unless you really want to.  It’s okay to tell people “no”.  You’re not selfish and you’re not a bully.  You’re just tired and overwhelmed and kinda need that space to yourself without the male strippers.

I don’t know if this advice will help anyone, but I think that if I took the time to follow my own advice, it would help me, at the least.  I’m always rushing around, over-managing my time (I know my limitations, but once I have a schedule, I always squeeze too many “oh, and this” things into it.  Bad idea.) and doing things that make my brain explode.  Overall, we should be able to wake up each morning feeling well-rested and anxious to move forward in our lives, rather than miserable.

Depression is one of the most common stress-related mental illnesses.  If you demand so much of yourself all the time, eventually, you will stop reaching even your own expectations, and then you will feel worthless.  Depression medication is expensive.  If you are at all in a position to prevent this mental state – do it.  So seriously.  Do whatever you need to do.  Find that stressbuster that works for you and bang stress on the head like Whack-A-Mole.

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Health ReportHealth Report: So.  Eating the Taco Bell that’s been sitting in my fridge for a week may not have been a great idea.  It tasted good enough, but I’m still a little concerned.  Had only one slice of homemade banana bread for breakfast, though, and it was absolutely delish.  Might nom something later on tonight, but my tummy may mutiny if I do….

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Financi-SmashFinanci-smash: So.  Whatever happened to saving money?  I bought a Wii yesterday.  My justification?  Bryan and I split it.  If I had bought everything full price solo, it would have cost $720.  But instead, we’re each paying $260-ish.  I want Wii Fit, though, which is one of the few things I’ve not gotten yet, so so much for my justification.  Beatles Rock Band (well, sort of) is hiding in my brother’s closet, though!  We pick up the Wii tomorrow.

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something to think about

"You know, I don't know if you'll understand this or not, but sometimes, even when I'm feeling very low, I'll see some little thing that will somehow renew my faith. Something like that leaf, for instance - clinging to its tree despite wind and storm. You know, that makes me think that courage and tenacity are about the greatest values a man can have. Suddenly my old confidence is back and I know things aren't half as bad as I make them out to be. Suddenly I know that with the strength of his convictions a man can move mountains, and I can proceed with full confidence in the basic goodness of my fellow man. I know that now. I know it." ~ End of Act I in the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

competing for the house cup

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