You’d think that by now I’d have the solution to stress management and mental health, and I desperately wish that I did. Balance and management is a constant learning process.
For me, stressing is second nature. I was born a 30-year old worrier, and not much has changed since except I’m now a 51-year old worrier. I never concerned myself much about mental health and time management until I lived by myself. For most of my life, I would overexert and over-work myself until my inevitable crash, after which I would pick myself back up and start all over again. Personally, I needed a breaking point to see how unhealthy this was, which came abruptly in my second year at university.
Struggling to deal with three unfortunate family circumstances, a deeply unhealthy personal relationship, a full-time course load and two part-time jobs took its toll on my physical and mental health, not to mention my grades and jobs. I would spend all day looking after every other person in my life, so by the end of it I would have no time for me- I stopped reading, stopped attending classes, rarely worked, barely ate. I felt drained and empty and had no one to turn to, partly out of pride, partly out of shame and embarrassment, and partly out of my insurmountable optimism that I could fix everything.
In spite of this, this time was one of the most influential and important experiences of my life. No one should have to go through these times alone, and so here are some techniques I have developed for managing the stress in my life:
- Always have a book by your bed
Reading has always been one of my biggest pleasures in life, and my books are some of my most prized possessions. Having a book just for you, that isn’t for a course, that isn’t for anyone but you can help put life in perspective and provide a small escape.
- Find a healthy physical way to work-out stress and frustration
Whether it’s doing yoga, going for a run, boxing, cycling or swimming doing any form of physical activity can re-invigorate you and burn away stress. Personally, I’ve always found swimming an amazing way to push away anything on my mind, but lately I’ve found running can be equally rewarding.
- Take up a hobby!
Sewing, knitting, painting, playing the flute and DIY projects are all things I plan time for- give yourself a break and some much needed “me-time” (maybe with good movie in the background!)
- Talk to someone
Significant other, friends, family it doesn’t matter. Stop feeling ashamed of how you feel and embrace it. Glendon Counselling Services is a great resource, and definitely helped my find methods to deal with my emotions. If you’re in residence talk to your Dons- they have amazing resources and are there to help you!