I was the first person in my family to graduate from college; as the type A, first born, I felt like Atlas during my studies. I wanted to do so well, and make my parents proud. In turn, I took on way too much. I volunteered for this, and worked at that, and loaded my schedule with courses, some I didn’t need for my program, but sounded like a challenge. I was that kid. (In all fairness, I kinda still am that kid.) The physical result of this quest for impossible collegiate perfection was astounding. I gained weight quickly. My hair thinned. My skin broke out. And I could fall asleep anywhere, anytime, for a few minutes. I was running on fumes and had put far too much pressure on my system. I didn’t realize that instead of working to kill stress, stress was killing me.
Advice to Kill Stress
My mother took one look at me when I returned home for Thanksgiving and gave me some advice I still use today. You need to ‘calmcentrate’. Calm down. Make a to-do list with the things you have to get done today and look only at the first task, until you can move on to the next. Concentrate on this, and you’ll succeed.
The following semester, I took fewer courses, found my place at the school newspaper, quit my job scooping ice cream and miraculously dropped those extra pounds. I also found my long-lost happiness. By making to-do lists and doing as my mother instructed, I was able to succeed academically and have a sliver of a social life.
We become stressed from being overwhelmed. We are also very good at hiding this stress, but it will not be ignored. It may show up as back pain, a kink in your neck or brittle fingernails. The body will always tell us when it is time to slow down and consider what is really bothering us.
My Tips for How to Kill Stress
- Make a list. Write out the tasks at hand.
- If necessary, make a pro vs. con list to analyze what you should do
- Spend time in prayer
- Get a good massage
- Take a hot bath before bedtime, avoid alcohol and remove all phones and laptops from the bedroom so you can get a good night of rest
- Make sure there is enough fiber in your diet; add more steamed vegetables to your plate
- Help others. This one never fails. When really stressed, take an hour to volunteer at your local food bank, or humane society. Watching your efforts help others will lower your heart rate and provide a happier perspective.
And remember, calmcentrate!
Do you have any unique ways that work for you to kill stress? Let us know in the comments.