It’s the first day of June y’all, I’m so excited! I spent two very relaxing and self-indulgent weeks at home in Houston and now I’m back in the city ready to start my finance internship next week, but surprisingly I’m not that nervous. Maybe it’s because I’ve been so busy settling down into my new apartment or maybe it’s because I still don’t believe it, but I’ve been pretty chill about it for the past couple of days. If you know me, then you know this is not like my usual stressed self: as the title suggests, I’ve done something about it! Last month during the midst of final exam season I tried to make a small (but actually big) change in my lifestyle, and that was to stress less.
When it comes to my responsibilities I jump at every little unexpected change or suspicion which ends up ruining my whole mood for the day, and let me tell you it’s NOT fun! I’ve always known I was a very high-strung person (not my best attribute!), stressing over situations that were completely out of my control and feeling even worse when they actually were, but the final straw was my acne. Even after trying several different products and going to the dermatologist a couple of times my skin was just not clearing up, and I knew that the only thing left was the most biggest player in my daily routine: stress. I decided I’d eliminate it for 7 full days and see where it would take me, knowing that it wouldn’t just affect my face but my also my physical and mental well-being.
After a couple days of successfully not stressing out I felt strange; I didn’t feel like myself because I knew that “stressed” was my default state. I realized that before this challenge I was not letting myself enjoy the present moment because I was constantly anxious about the future. It took a lot of work and active thought trying to react to situations with something other than stress, but after a while I began to feel at peace for once. Whenever I did notice myself start to worry about anything I’d write it down immediately as to not give it any space in my head, and it actually works! I didn’t know how big of a component stress was for my behavior until I actively tried to replace this response with something different like patience.
Being In the Moment
I began to feel more grateful, and I don’t mean thinking about my blessings for three seconds before running off to my next responsibility. I actually spent moments by myself thinking through my appreciation and how different my life would be if certain events had unfolded differently. I made myself see the things on my to-do list as things I get to do rather than things I have to do. As a result I noticed myself practicing more mindful behavior and enjoying the sounds and smells around me on the train, on my walk to school, and when I was doing groceries. I tried to see the positive side of everything and looked for things to feel thankful for which boosted my mood and let me go on about my day feeling cheerful.
This didn’t just help nourish my relationship with myself but also my relationship with everybody else around me. I felt more patient and lenient with the people I was working with and enjoyed the presence of my friends more because my mind was actually present. People’s negativity, unkind words, and toxic behaviors did not have as much of an effect on me as they would’ve before; that’s not to say I ignored them, but I let myself not take them to heart because words are just words. It was nice to actually listen to people and observe their actions on more than just a surface-level, and it felt even better to be 100% me in front of others.
More Sleep = Loved it!
I try to get a full 8 hours of sleep whenever I can, however to be honest my sleep is always interrupted by abrupt moments of panic induced by dreams that involve whatever I’m currently working on that week. In other words, I’ve woken up way too many times frustrated because I couldn’t solve a math problem in my dream or because I couldn’t figure out a choreography routine, and it sounds funny in retrospect but let’s be honest, it’s irritating! While I still experienced these random bursts of stress during my sleep I noticed it wasn’t as bad as before. I woke up only about two times during the week which I’d say is a pretty good improvement. When you stop letting so many concerns take up space in your head you’re bound to create better conditions for a good night’s sleep as I saw for myself, and who doesn’t want more sleep??
Stress Can Be Good
Stress is a natural human reaction that allows us to be more alert and responsive to challenges and it is a method of survival. Deadlines aren’t life or death situations, but it is important feel a little stress to get us started on our tasks. Without stress you would have no way of knowing what your priorities are, and you wouldn’t have that little alarm in your head telling you to get going. Like anything, stress in moderation can be helpful to fuel you for success. Without stress you wouldn’t be here!
This was definitely a challenge but somehow I was able to turn that one week into one month, and it’s definitely made life much more enjoyable and has given me the flexibility to take things at my own pace. Do you think you could do it?