After a super stressful end to the uni year, It’s been wonderful to relax and ease into the summer break.
[STRESS] – Now, I must admit, I’m not one to preach on this topic. At least a few times a year, I’ll have a complete breakdown due to various obstacles in life. Luckily, most of the stress in my life has been work/study related. During my first year of uni, I’ve only had a couple major breakdowns. These have occurred at the end of both semesters (due to a mountain of unfinished work, oops).
For me, in year 11 and 12, these breakdowns occurred quite often. At the beginning of year 11, transitioning from a public high school to an all-girls private school was definitely hard. On top of this, I had to ease myself into boarding life, which was a lot to deal with at once.
Despite this, I still got comments from teachers and classmates commenting on my ‘chilled’ demeanour. This was mainly because I decided to enjoy year 12, not despise it. I also tried to put the year into perspective; I realised that after a year of gruelling work, it would be over. Ultimately, I ended up graduating with an ATAR in the mid-nineties (which I was super happy with).
Sometimes, we need to put things into perspective. As my mum always says, ‘It’s not the end of the world’. It never is.
So, here are some ways to de-stress and put things into perspective:
The first step is gaining control over your breathing. The GIF below is a simple guide to breathing deeply, plus it’s calming to look at. When we’re stressed, hormones like cortisol flood our systems, producing the “fight or flight response” in which our heart rate goes up, we breathe more heavily (requiring more oxygen) and our blood vessels constrict. A couple minutes of deep breathing automatically puts you back in control of your mind and body. It also helps to us to focus on the present, not the worries of the future.
More about breathing here.
2. Create Positive Intentions.
How many times have you woken up in the morning and absolutely dreaded the day ahead? Probably too many times to count. The key is to create a positive mindset before your day actually starts. Lay in bed and repeat the mantra: “Today, I will have a wonderful, happy and productive day”. By doing this, it reinforces the kind of day you want to have. Too often, we start the day with negativity.
More tips to start your day here.
After I get myself into a positive mindset, I like to plan my day. This leads me on to my next tip.
3. Create Lists.
Something that helps me to de-stress is a visual list of things I need to do + a schedule. Remember: make the list achievable. In regards to school or uni work, it’s pointless to write ‘start and finish International Relations essay’. The key? Break the list down into smaller components. For example:
- 10am: Choose essay question and roughly plan each paragraph.
- 11am: Research information for each paragraph.
- 1pm: Narrow down paragraph ideas – what exactly will I write about?
- 2pm: Write concise introduction (with the help of your essay plan).
etc. etc. More about list making here.
Creating a daily schedule helps you to feel in control of your day (without drowning in endless tasks).
4. Go Outside.
This next tip is to put yourself and your problems into a universal perspective. Sometimes when we spend too much time in our own head, our problems seem immensely bigger than they really are. Go for a run. Go to the beach. Simply go outside and look at the stars, the moon; hear the sound of traffic, the birds, and remember that you are not alone.
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” – Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994.
This is not to say that our problems are irrelevant or unimportant. It’s a reminder that life will go on, the world will keep on turning, and you will always make it out the other side.
5.1. Let It Out.
THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP: TALK TO SOMEONE. The most horrible feeling in the world is the twisty, uncomfortable, nervous, gut-wrenching feeling in the stomach when something is wrong. You can’t sleep. You can’t enjoy things. It lingers there until you let it out and talk to someone. I can’t count how many times I’ve rang my mum in a flurry of stress and anxiety. I always hang up feeling settled and balanced (thanks mum).
Remember: a problem shared is a problem halved. When you talk about your source of stress, it feels like a weight has been physically lifted from your shoulders.
5.2. Let It Out (Through Positivity).
However, aim to be a source of positive energy > negative energy. There is a difference between ‘venting’ and ‘complaining’. If you are focussed on the negatives in your life more than the positives, it means that your mindset needs to change.
Try a gratitude journal! An abundance of research has shown the links between gratitude and happiness. Gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.
Read more about gratitude journals here.
Remember, you are in the process of becoming the best version of yourself. You are human. It’s okay to cry and let it all out. What’s most important is how you pick yourself up again.
Thanks for reading,