Conversations with Sheila: Stress


April 2014

Conversations with Sheila

After Spring Break, the stress levels on campus that were at a fever pitch before break; go down--for a day or two, then they seem to increase 100 fold. Senior papers remind us that we don’t like editing and endnotes. Our Paideia I research papers drag on and that upcoming presentation or group project is starting to siphon the joy out of other classes. Members of the faculty realize the things that have to be accomplished before the end of the semester and cringe. Staff members feel the stress of having to get things done, no excuses. 

All of this activity is increased during admitted student visit days, career fairs, ROAD, planning senior class events, research symposiums, and L3. Not to mention, the transitions will all have to plan for: a summer job, a place to live, a new career or a surgical procedure. We struggle with what feels like “the lacks”—lack of time money and energy. We are trying to enjoy the upcoming birthdays, graduations, and weddings all while keeping up with e-mail, Twitter, and FB and designing workarounds for life’s various curveballs.

Stress is the body’s response to living overwhelmed. Time to break the cycle. Here are some tips to use between now and the end of the semester.

Reconsider your priorities. Admit it. You're trying to jam too many tasks into too little time. When you are doing too many things, you magnify problems, leap to conclusions, and reason emotionally instead of logically. Stop, breathe, reflect, and choose where you will invest your time and communicate with those who haven’t made your priority list. They deserve to know. In short, consider what is truly essential and important to you and what needs to take a backseat right now and then communicate your priorities.

Don’t solve your problems alone. People will help you provided you are not simply content to complain. If you are actively solving a problem, talk to a professor, a co-worker or a supportive boss. Ask knowledgeable people for the information you need and take initiative.  No one should have to hold your hand. Take time to plan and then work the plan.

Self-care is your best stress relief? Pare down your schedule for mini-relaxations. Slow down every day to do one task that you enjoy. Feeling sorry for yourself is stressful but feeling happy about something you enjoy is an excellent method of stress relief.

Feeling tense? Take a hot bath, a mindful walk, a sprint up and down the stairs or any kind of exercise. If you regularly do things to reduce the tension in your life, you’ll feel more relaxed.

Worn out or burned out? Figure out some self-nurturing activities and make them a priority. Care for your body by eating good, healthy food and for your heart by seeking out others.

Feeling lonely? Connect with others; even little connections help. Come to the Diversity Center for a brief conversation, popcorn, and a few laughs.