Saturday, April 08, 2006

This Is Not Stress
By Kate Nichols

To be completely honest, I never actually feel stressed. What, you say? Never stressed? It is true. I am a full-time college student with a part-time job. I am swamped with hobbies that I thoroughly enjoy and surrounded by the sounds of a noisy city. I have meaningful relationships that require constant tending, and I carry around a day-planner with barely any space left to write. I also get a good night sleep no less than six days a week. I have healthy eating habits and a varying exercise regime. In fact, the only aspect of my life that might signal an excess of stress is my two-cups-of-coffee-a-day habit. Really, it’s just my love for the aroma of a perfectly roasted bean inside a tall cardboard cup. An enjoyable life with no stress: Euphoria? I think not.

All of my friends, classmates, acquaintances, and etcetera – all seem to be suffering from excess stress. They complain constantly, all wishing they weren’t so “stressed out.” They never have time to eat, never sleep until three a.m., and always turn in assignments milliseconds before they are due. Yet, I find it hard to sympathize when my schedule looks quite similar to theirs. My secret? It’s not stress until you name it so. Running across town to turn in a paper, tossing and turning about one thing or the other, grabbing a power bar to last for breakfast lunch and dinner – all things I have done. To me, it’s called a busy day, or a lot to do.

When you let all the factors consume you at once, that is when it becomes stress. No human can worry about twenty-seven different things and remain calm. In taking things one day at a time, you are able to accomplish each task separately, and sanely. Time management has a lot to do with combating the strains of everyday life. With ten things to do and only five minutes to do them, one can easily feel overwhelmed. But by assessing problems and responsibilities with a positive, open mind, so many burdens can be eliminated.

With so many different techniques to manage stress, it can be hard to select what you feel is the most suited for you. I say do whatever feels natural. If you have a ten-page paper due tomorrow and zero pages completed thus far, panic will automatically set in. You think - failure from class, anger from parents, and disappointment with oneself – before the title page is even constructed. So many students feel “stressed” before they even have a chance to figure out why. This is the moment where you need to find a natural solution. Whether it be a cup of tea, a twenty minute nap, or counting backwards from one hundred and seventeen – find something that will refresh you and remind you that it is only a paper, only an argument, only a deadline, only life. As humans, we waste so much time complaining about stress, feelings stressed and worrying about stress when we could be getting rid of whatever is bothering us in the first place. I am a college student and I am never stressed. What works for me might work for you, so, I say: one day at a time, one foot in front of the other. You are only stressed when you call it so.

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