Life can really suck sometimes.
This semester was hell for me: from being sick straight from January to April, to having single digits in my savings account, to being heartbroken, to having my family drive me crazy, to dealing with crazy teachers, to having no motivation to do anything, to dealing with strained friendships, to trying to graduate, and everything else. My life was literally in ruins. But it was so odd, within my ruinous life, I was happy. I am NOT saying that I did not cry floodwaters from my eyeballs throughout the semester (because I did), but what I am saying is that when I did cry, it was due to stress rather than sadness. I wondered what had changed. How was I happy even though nothing around me was supporting that?
I know myself pretty well, and I realized that I can handle just about anything. That being said, I can handle anything as long as it comes as a solo package. For me, when the first stressful event comes, I’m chilling. When the second thing comes, I’m still chilling. But when that third thing comes, I often find myself slipping into a depression. We all have our coping mechanisms, for some it’s drugs or alcohol. For me it’s depression. Depression is a way for me to push pause on everything and detach myself from the hectic life around me. This makes depression appealing – something that you don’t want to fall into, but sometimes you do. A civil war of sorts within your psyche. I can handle sadness well, but I am not good when I get overwhelmed. Because I know this and believe that depression is not a healthy means of coping, I stay very cognizant of my stress levels. I pay attention to when I see stressful events piling up, and I begin taking steps to avoid depression.
So how did I smile atop the ruins of my life?
I took time to do things that made me happy.
When we as people get busy and stressed, we often focus on the stress, thinking that focus will help us get through it. Contrary to our impulse, focusing on stress simply makes you more stressed and often less efficient in handling the tasks before you. So instead of focusing on my stress, this semester I took some time out to do things I love. This helped recharge me, and when I went back into the stress I was much more able to handle it. My main means of stress relief were talking with friends and taking myself out to eat. These are a few things that make me happy. Are you stressed now? What are somethings that you love?
I looked outside of myself.
Stress is something that causes people to become very self-centered. You get into a survival mode, and literally nothing else matters outside of surviving. Thriving isn’t really a thing at that moment. Other people are definitely not a thing! During the semester I vowed to volunteer at the nursing home at least once a week. This was probably the biggest thing, outside of God himself, that helped me navigate the stress. When I looked at those elderly people, many on ventilators, and heard their stories, I was reminded that my stress is not the end of the world. I was not the only one going through things, and I was also not going through the worst things on the planet. Volunteering put everything in perspective, and made my stress seem a lot more manageable. What talents do you have? How you can use your talents to help others?
I became very future centered.
Imagine life as a continuum. If life is this infinite entity, this moment is literally just a blip in the universe. Granted, an individual’s life is not infinite (depending on your beliefs), but when I thought about how this seemingly huge, long, very serious semester impacted my life, I realized that I was stressing over 0.5% of my existence (based on an 80 year lifespan). In that moment I understood that while this time sucks, it is still insignificant in the big scheme of things. I am not saying that every moment of life is not important, but what I am saying is that every moment in life will eventually pass. If you mess up in this moment, you will have to get over it, because that moment, or that semester, is just not that serious. It is not the end all be all (unless you die, then it is). I guess it sums up to remembering that no matter how much something sucks now, you have a future and one day this horrible experience will probably be swept away in the depths of your memory.
I affirmed myself!
One of my biggest helps during this struggle was my affirmation wall. When I was not feeling like this whole life thing was working out, I would either read my affirmation wall or write on it. My self-affirmation did not end there though. I spent extra time in the mirror to remind myself of who I was, affirmed myself while driving, thought in affirmations, dreamed in affirmations, breathed in affirmations. It is so easy to think of yourself in terms of your circumstances. When you’re not doing well in school, you start thinking that you’re dumb. When you experience heartbreak, you start thinking you’re not as beautiful or dope as you once thought. When you are broke, you start doubting your own worth. I was not down for that! My constant self-edification left no room for those thoughts to settle in. What do you like about yourself? How often do you remind yourself of the amazing person you are?
This is by no means a cure for stress, but this is how I got through one of the most stressful times in my life. I really hope it helps you!
Be great my loves,