When things get tough…

Stress is something we have all been through, and will continue to go through. Stress is inevitable. You can’t avoid it and you can’t escape it. It’s a part of life, and so instead of letting it take over our lives, tackle it head on and take it down before it can do its damage. Whatever you do, don’t give it the power to control you.

As someone who has never dealt with stress very well, I wanted to write this post to share with everyone what I try to do to avoid succumbing to the suffocating grasp of what we call stress. Especially since us students are now entering midterm season.

Dealing with Stress

  1. Meditate. You might be scoffing at this, and I did too at first, but trust me on this one… it works wonders. All you have to do is sit, close your eyes, and try and clear your mind of anything and everything. Don’t think of anything for 5 minutes. If your mind starts to wander, just immediately start thinking, “oh no, I’m thinking!” and just try clearing your mind. It might be difficult getting used to not thinking of anything, but once you become composed enough to just sit there in silence, and even out your breathing, it feels really wonderful. Stress is one of the main factors that cloud our mind from thinking straight and cause us to do impulsive things, and so for me, I found this to be a good way to stop my negative thoughts and cleanse my mind.
  2. Take a break. Do something you enjoy, like going to the gym, watching an episode of your favourite tv show, playing an instrument, going out for a short walk, or you could always meditate. Whatever you do, do not work until you have a mental breakdown and fry your brains. You can do chores, if it helps take your mind off of the stress for a while!
  3. Think to yourself, “what will stressing out do for me?” The truth is, it really does nothing for you. All it does is impair your thinking, slow you down, and cloud your mind into thinking depressing things. Instead, try and think about the present, and less about the future, for the moment. Time is an independent thing, that won’t slow down for you or speed up for you. You can’t fight time, so just let it be. If you have something due in 2 hours, don’t stress. It will only slow you down. Just try your hardest and do your best, because when that time comes, at least you will know that you tried your hardest.
  4. Cry, scream, whatever. Just let it all out. One thing that’s hard for me, to do is to cry, especially in front of other people. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s showing weakness in front of others, but just know that it’s okay to cry. Go home, sit on your bed, grab a box of Kleenix, and cry until your eyes are dried out. Your eyes will feel puffy after, but after a while, no matter how hard you cry, your tears won’t spill anymore. That’s when you realize, “what was I crying about?” When you cry until you can’t cry anymore, that’s when you realize you have stuff to do and can’t waste any more time crying about it.
  5. Take a quick shower. Shower time is thinking time, and also a great time to clear your mind. Not to mention you’ll feel instantly refreshed afterwards.
  6. If all else fails… nap. Sleep is such a beautiful thing. When you wake up, you might even forget what you were stressing about.

Preventing Stress

Of course, it’s good to be able to cope with stress, but it would be even better if we could avoid it altogether. Here are some tips, from my own experience, of minimizing stress:

  1. Manage your time wisely. Set priorities. Don’t wait until the last minute. I cannot stress this enough. As someone who has always left things until the last minute, I have gone through way too many close calls until I finally learned about the joys of getting something done early. Just because there’s a due date, doesn’t mean you you can’t finish it early. Once you get into the habit of starting things right when you get them, or getting your assignments done early, you’ll be able to feel more relaxed when the due date approaches, because you know you’ve already got some, or most, of your work done. Trust me. Handing in something early feels amazing and the fact that you don’t have to worry about it anymore means you can start focusing on other things that matter.
  2. Create incentive. Restrict yourself from turning on your brand new PS4 until you’ve finished what you need to finish. This gives you a goal to work towards, and the reward feels 10x better once you know that you’ve finished what you need to finish and can enjoy your new Final Fantasy game to the fullest, without having to worry, because you earned it!
  3. Surround yourself with positive people; cut out the dead weights. There is nothing worse than being surrounded by negative people. These types of people want to drag you down with them, and will morph your thoughts into negative ones like their own, but don’t give them that satisfaction. You are different. You have hope. You want to change for the better, and there are many people out there who would love you have you as a friend. I used to have a friend who was always causing drama and constantly complaining to me about everything from teachers, to friends, to little things people did like tap their pencils on the desk, and eventually, I found myself thinking like her. All the things she found annoying, I started to find annoying. I realized before it was too late, and cut ties. I know it sounds awful, but I don’t want to turn into that kind of person, who can’t enjoy anything in life because they’re always worrying and stressing over what other people you, you know? Surround yourself by those people with goals, who look forward to things in their life, who are living every minute of their life to the fullest. When you’re surrounded by smiles, you will find yourself smiling as well.

And one last thing. Know that there are people out there for you to talk to. Friends, family, teachers, even your pets. Talking about something is a good way to relieve stress. I used to bottle everything inside, and I always felt shy or ashamed to tell anyone, but eventually, I started to confide in my sister about stuff that stressed me out, and surprisingly enough, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders, and it sure helped by talking to someone with a clear head. She offered help and advice, and slowly, I started to feel hopeful again. I knew that whatever I was going through right now, at least I would have my sister… and my friends and family, and everyone else important to me.

Just know that when the going gets tough, no matter what you are going through, you will always have someone there for you. If things turn out badly, that’s okay. That’s life. It’s not the end of the world. Let go of that stress and move on. There’s nothing you can do about it except try and fix it and learn from it. Hold on to hope and stress will never be able to get the best of you.

Emily

If you are lonely when you are alone, you are in bad company.

If you are lonely when you are alone, you are in bad company.

– Jean-Paul Sartre

I came across this quote as I was reading the comments to someone’s post who said they were feeling lonely in college, and I couldn’t help but think it was such a coincidence that I was thinking that earlier as well, and how true this quote is.

The first week at my new university was pretty brutal, and I couldn’t stop comparing myself to everyone around me, who seemed to all have friends and someone to sit beside and talk to in class. For me, I came to this school by myself, and so I was completely alone. I started getting sad and lonely.

At first, I went to orientation, openly talked to random people in class, but it turned out to be really hard to keep in contact after, especially since all the lectures are so big. After I talked to them, I’d never see them again after that, and so it was hard for me to make new friends and hold onto them.

Then one day, I just suddenly thought to myself: what’s the rush? Why was I so intent on finding friends? Friendship is something that takes time. If they’re not your friend right now, maybe they’re not meant to be, maybe they are. You never know. Besides, I was here for my education, not to make a billion friends in the first month.

And so after realizing this, my time alone didn’t feel so depressing anymore. After I threw away that need to desperately find a friend, or to always be with someone, I found that being alone wasn’t so bad. Of course, this doesn’t mean I will be giving up on making friends; they will come eventually, when the time is right.

So to anyone out there who is currently feeling lonely in college or university. Don’t take it so seriously. Find something to do on your own time to keep you busy until clubs start having their first meeting. Watch tv, cook, play guitar, piano, whatever. When the clubs start, I bet, you and me both, will find people with the same interests as us. Join lots of clubs that interest you, and get involved in the community. That way, I’m sure you’ll end up finding some of friends.

New Experiences

For me, I live in a smaller town that only has popular chains of stores, and more westernized types of shops, and so I haven’t experienced much of, what I would call, the “outside” world. I realized this when I went to university.

In university, my closest friends were all from bigger cities with a nice variety of different cultures, like Waterloo, Toronto, and Markham. They shared their knowledge and experiences with me and that’s when I started learning a lot about what there was available in bigger cities.

They took me to new places like Korean BBQ, Karaoke, The Face Shop, ChaTime, 4am pizza; places I’ve never been to before, and I experienced a lot of new things. It was a very memorable time for me because I got to learn about all these new things and experience them with people who were close to me, and so they became memories that I really treasure.

I think it’s really important to explore what’s out there in the world, which is why I am always open to new ideas and doing things that I’ve never done before. I’m not very brave when it comes to scary things, but I still push myself to do it because I don’t want to have any regrets. Sometimes, things only happen once in your life, and if you don’t take up the opportunity then, you’ll never get it again, and so I am always up for anything, as long as I get to do it with those who are close to me.

Trying new things is my way of showing love and respect to the people who are close to me, because even if I’ve never done it before, or am scared to try, at least I’m making the effort and going out of my comfort zone to do it. I also do it for myself, because completing something that I was nervous or scared to do, feels like a great accomplishment to me and at the end, it really makes me feel like I can do anything. Then in the future, I might be able to share my experience with someone else who is doing it for the first time.

Sometimes I actually find things that I enjoy, that I never thought I’d like, just by trying it once. For instance, before, I used to despise spicy food, and never wanted to eat it, but when I’m eating it with friends and family, suddenly it becomes more tasty, and I actually found that it’s pretty fun to eat because of everyone’s reactions. I still can’t eat really spicy foods, but compared to 3 years ago, I am much better!

So really, I guess what I’m trying to say, is that you should always treasure your first experiences and others’ first experiences, because you can really only experience something for the first time, once in your life.

For my friends, who have eaten Korean BBQ many times in their life, or gone to street food vendors a lot, I really appreciate that they wanted me to enjoy the experience and always looked out for me when I was trying things for the first time. They always said, “Emily! This is really good, you should try it!” and even if it was a small gesture, it actually made me really happy inside that they were thinking of me and wanted me to have the best first experience ever.

It’s your friends, family, and people around you that make first experiences memorable, so instead of trying out that new restaurant by yourself, or watching that new movie by yourself, I feel like instead… you should invite a friend! There’s nothing better than being able to share your new experience with someone else, who might even have a mutual feeling, and laughing about it with them.

 

Take the time to enjoy the company around you while you still can,
Emily