#StressedOut

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


If there is one thing in college that hinders productivity and any sort of stability, it's stress. I have never met a college student that hasn't described their current state as "stressed," usually followed by a pained smile and forced laugh. Stress is so common and normalized that those who even feel an insane amount of stress and pressure from their classes, extracurriculars, jobs, relationships, whatever it may be, have to laugh it off because it's not "serious." It's just a normal part of life, right? But at what point does the stress become too much?

For me, it was a day I decided to work on a day that I had a big exam that I didn't study much for. It was a day where I only had two story pitches instead of three. It was a day where I knew I had all of these assignments coming up and I hadn't even checked the rubric for any of them. It was a day where I had been over-worked, under-slept, and just completely exhausted because of my own doing. It was a day I took my thirty minute drive from work to campus, crying the entire way until I had to walk into class. It was a day where I came home from classes and laid under the covers for an hour and a half in my outfit from the day, staring at the ceiling until I melted into the mattress. 

However, it was also the day where I told myself things had to change.

Gone was the self that swore off relaxing, who said that going to bed before one a.m. was a waste of time, who wouldn't let herself sleep until she hit a certain word count. Gone was the days of saying "yes" to everything and not doing anything for myself. It's sort of funny the way terrible things spark changes, but sometimes life has funny ways of telling you to get your stuff together.

That was two Thursdays ago and I feel like a different person. I don't know how long it had been building up. I feel like it probably started in fall semester, but I can't be positive. I suppose it doesn't really matter because it's over now and hopefully won't start again. Maybe these past six months or so have just been a trial and error system of trying to find a balance, ending with things spinning completely out of control. However, I took the wheel back and I'm feeling better than ever.

If there's anything I learned from being perpetually stressed out, it's that something has to give. When I woke up on Friday to go to work after that terrible Thursday, there was this sobering moment while I was making breakfast that I had to do something about it. I went through a mental list of everything I needed to do. It was unlike any to do list that I've ever made. This time, it wasn't adding on physical things for me to do and get done by a deadline. They were bullet points for myself, life advice a-la Francesca to ensure that I didn't spend a thirty minute drive dry-heaving while I operated a vehicle because I cracked. A lot of self-assurance went into getting me to a better place just two weeks later. I had to tell myself a lot of things that I didn't want to hear, had to face a lot of realities, and ultimately had to lecture myself a lot about things that should be simple, but just aren't to me. 

"Take a break"

Any variation of these words drive me nuts. I don't know what breaks are. I am a self-imposed workaholic, whether it's a job, school work, working on my blog or my writing. Whatever it is, if I had free time, I want to fill that time with work, work, work. Taking a break to do nothing but watch Netflix or read leisurely had never been an option for me. I was fully convinced that I didn't know how to take a break. Perhaps that was true, but taking a step back from the things that were stressing me out the most and putting them on hold acted as this weird cleansing step, as if I ridded myself of these terrible toxins and could start fresh. 

"Relax"

Along the lines of taking a break, I was fully convinced I didn't know how to relax. I still don't think I fully know how to, but I'm better. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate beaches because they require relaxing (and water and sand, but that's neither here nor there). I can't sit still. I need to constantly be moving and I don't like being stuck in the same place or feeling idle. However, I'm proud to announce that since Saturday, I've gotten to season two of Gilmore Girls (yes, to destress I've decided to rewatch my favorite TV show–a great life choice on my part). I've nearly finished the newest issue of Vogue and I've started to read Atonement. I stepped away from writing for about three weeks, as it was the thing that stressed me out the most, I think. I lived on deadlines and while I love order, deadlines that didn't actually mean anything to me are what set me over the edge on top of school and work. So I relaxed. I took a deep breath and let myself work at my own pace. 

"It's okay to cry"

I told myself the entire time in that car that I was being silly, that I was fine, that crying was stupid. Crying is not stupid. I knew deep down that it wasn't, but I thought telling myself that it was would get me to stop. Instead, it made me feel powerless and weak and out of control. So, past self, you were not being silly, you were being human. 

"Take their help"

There was a two week period where I was pushing people away. I didn't want anyone to catch onto what was happening. I stopped answering texts, I stayed away from social media for the most part. I hid in my room when I wasn't in class or at work. I distanced myself from anything and everyone because I didn't want my problems to spill over into theirs. I was totally convinced that nobody cared, which was the furthest thing from the truth. I made myself feel isolated and alone so I could wallow in my own self-pity and stress by myself. I just didn't want anyone to worry, which I think made people worry regardless except then they had no actual grasp on how I was. If someone is offering their hand or shoulder, whether physically or via text, take it. It's a safe place to talk about it without having the voice in your head telling you that you can work through it. 

"Start again, slowly"

While I couldn't completely drop schoolwork at this time, I went about working in a completely different way. Without worrying about writing or dedicating my day to something that, in the end, wasn't that important to my daily life, I had freed up a majority of day. I dedicated the past week and a half to only schoolwork, which has given me so much free time. I didn't realize how much time I wasted doing absolutely nothing. In forcing myself to work and take breaks, I've gotten so much more work done and that work has ultimately been better. Or maybe it just made me feel better. Either or I'll accept with open arms. I just started writing again earlier this week, little by little. Paragraphs at a time, really. But I don't force it. I don't force anything anymore. If it's not happening at that moment, then it's not happening. 

I can't force things in life that don't come naturally anymore. I can't spend my own time on things that aren't making me feel 100% happy in that moment. I found that the key in alleviating stress was letting myself, for once in my life, embrace free time. There is no harm in taking an hour, two hours, an entire day to yourself. Treat yourself with the utmost kindness and remember that you're not alone in this. 

Post a Comment

Hi y'all! Let's chat!

Latest Instagrams

© life according to francesca. Design by FCD.