Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Stress: Developing My Cure
By Laura Matteri

Money, work, school, relationships, emotions, time management, and illness … I bet you got a headache just reading that. Basically, life creates stress. The question is – how do we deal with it every day? Even though we feel like we’re going to die because of the different stresses every day, there are things we can do for ourselves to relax. And don’t worry – it doesn’t take too long.

Stress affects mostly everyone on a daily basis. It may even change day by day. According to the University of Florida’s Counseling Center, the primary sources of stress are your environment, physiological standings, your thoughts, and social stressors. Basically that breaks down into my mood, whether I’m sick or healthy, my job, my bank account, school, traffic… my life! I can’t seem to understand how I can depict one aspect of my daily routine to blame for my stress.

As a college student, I deal with the typical stress factors. Classes, money, striving to do well in school, pressure from parents to make it “worth their while,” figuring out what I want to do with my life, in addition to trying to have a social life. I, as well as every other college student, usually ignore the majority of those things. If I didn’t, I might go crazy. While everything is time consuming, there are days when I make myself take a deep breath and realize that I live in one of the most amazing cities in the whole world, New York.

I find that doing one thing for myself every day helps lower the stress level. Whether that’s going to my favorite store, splurging on a nice dinner with friends, or walking to Central Park to go running, these things help me clear my mind for the time being. I usually come home to do homework or write a paper whose deadline is fast approaching.

As silly as it may sound, there are also days when I just need to talk to my mother. Somehow, she helps me balance my juggling act of activities and due dates for projects. I find that talking to someone who I trust about things going on in my life help me to get a better outlook on situations. For some people, family or friends may not be the best option when looking for someone to talk to. A stranger may work better, which is where speaking to a professional therapist comes in. Giving up about an hour each week can help you control your life. Hearing the problems out loud gives a better grip on your life.

The University of Florida’s Counseling Center also says that relaxation techniques are extremely valuable tools in stress management. I find that yoga and steaming in a sauna do help me to clear my mind and focus on what’s important, but I also disagree with the University’s idea. There are many days when I am so frustrated and stressed, I want to go on a long and demanding run, whether it’s on the treadmill or on the road that I live on. The idea of just running until I can’t anymore is helpful to me because I feel like I’m letting my anger out about certain things. That way, when I go home, I can forget about the feelings I have that won’t help the situation or make it go away. This creates a focus method and I can move on.

I find that staying organized also helps me reduce stress. If I can see everything that I have to do for a certain day or deadline, I feel at ease. I know that I’m not forgetting anything and I see how much time I can procrastinate until I really have to sit down and get it done. Oh right, procrastination – another huge part of reducing my stress. I know it’s a bad thing, but I think a little leeway is acceptable.

And, as always, after months of stressful events, I need a break. Spring Break, to be exact. This is one of the last things I am writing before I collapse on a sunny beach for an entire week. Taking time for yourself is well deserved for everyone. Clear your head, enjoy yourself, and then prepare for the next segment. Back to work, back to the hustle and bustle of the city, and back to the plans of organization and the little things in life that make it enjoyable.

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