I assumed that being done with final exams for the year and not having a whole lot to do this summer would finally bring me the time to relax, sleep normally, eat right, and do all of the things I have been wanting to do for awhile, stress free.
So far I have watched a lot of television on the internet, slept in until 2 pm (I can't remember the last time this happened), and all but ate my weight in peanut butter. All of these are signals that I am mega stressed out!
Apparently it is possible for me to be equally stressed out by having too much time on my hands as when I have too much to do and no time to do it. I don't know if our culture has just conditioned me to be in a constant state of stress, but I really need to find a way around this.
Usually I exercise when I'm stressed, but alas, as I was about to step out the door to go for a run it immediately started to downpour and I'm just not that hardcore about running. And of course I am kicking myself because when I briefly woke up at 8 am it was beautiful out, but instead of taking advantage of that situation I went back to bed for six hours.
Since I am apparently so stressed out that I am paralyzed to do anything at all except endlessly check facebook and eat peanut butter out of the jar (does anybody else do that or is it just me..?), I realized I need a new tactic for de-stressing. I know that showering/bathing works for some, yoga/meditation for others, cleaning yet for different people, but I know that before any of those work for me I need to actually delineate why I am stressed out.
So many of us are in such a constant state of stress that it is crucial to be able to take a step back from it and figure out what exactly it is that is causing all of this stress. What I have done before, and is my suggestion to you, is to grab a notebook/legal pad/piece of blank paper and write in big bold letters at the top "Why I'm Stressed". (Underline it. It will make you feel better already.)
Once you've done that, write down every possible thing that comes to mind until you have nothing left to write. It doesn't matter what it is, whether from the past, present, or future. Hopefully you will get the same sense of relief that I do when I do this little exercise.
A little excerpt from the list that I just made:
Why I'm Stressed:
- I don't know what to do with myself now that I don't have a job, school or responsibilities
- My part time graphic design work isn't going to pay my rent. How am I going to afford living for the next few months?
- I'm afraid I'm not going to stick to my half marathon training schedule. I already let rain stop me. Why did I procrastinate this morning?
- My room is a mess. Need to clean it. Was going to after I worked out. Now that isn't happening. I don't know what to do with my clutter.
This is a great thing to do, too, if you are at work because it gives you a timeout to refocus your energy and put a pause on the worrying. One of the biggest things that I think leads to stress is that so many of us feel that we have to always be doing something and that we have to do it all on our own.
I'm still staring at the monstrous piles on my bedroom floor and still watching the torrential rains outside while sitting on my bed in my workout clothes, knowing that the rain isn't going to stop before my guitar lessons tonight which poses a whole new set of problems. But I'm not going to worry about it right now. If anything comes up I'll add it to my list.
Another thing is that once you have a list, you can look at it and decide what is within your realm of choice and what isn't. Clearly I can't affect the weather, so I am not going to worry about it- I will run during my next rest day. I can work on cleaning my room. That is within my control. By being able to sort out what is under my control and what isn't, I will know what steps to take next, which is a huge help in getting rid of that stress.
The last thing (I know this is long) is to accept stress as part of our lives. While it is a good idea to cut down as much as possible, don't waste all of your energy trying to get rid of it! If possible, enjoy stressful situations by knowing that you have the capacity to get through them. I think I just decided that before I clean my room I'm going to go play in the rain. May as well make the best of this situation!