CourtneyLevitt_picIt’s Midterm week, Spring break is around the corner, and an enormous weight has been placed on my shoulders once again. With so many errands to run, so much material to learn, and so much sleep to catch up on, it seems rather impossible to get through the week acting like myself. I am stressed and I am a mess.

Stressful times bring out the worst in me, making me unpleasant and almost unbearable to be around. It’s gotten to the point where my family questions if I’m really happy, my friends doubt that “I’m fine,” and even I have found myself questioning whether or not I really am okay.

Stress is something I’ve dealt with my entire life, whether it is deciding what to order off the dinner menu at a new restaurant, which black top to wear Tuesday night out, or which format seems most fitting for my resume. I always find a reason to stress myself out one way or another. Even before I was brought into this world, I am convinced I was stressed.

My mom recalls that sitting in the womb for 40 weeks, somehow, for me, was aggravating. I was constantly kicking around, throwing signals from left to right. I just wanted to get out of there already, I hated being cooped up in an unfamiliar place for so long. And even today, there are times when I still act like a baby, kicking, crying, or throwing things around, because I can’t figure out how to cope with my own distress, or better yet, understand where all of this tension is coming from. As a result, I take all of my aggravation out on friends and family, causing everyone around me to feel the same apprehension that I do.

894426bf-4d7a-44f0-80aa-2d0cdda7b6eaThrough many mental breakdowns, many tears, and what seems to be never ending frustration, I’ve found that stress comes in waves, sometimes it comes all at once, and sometimes it hits us like a brick wall when we least expect it. It seems inevitable at times and like your whole world is falling apart, but I have found manageable ways to cope with my own stress. And not only do such strategies help make my life a little bit easier, and a little less stressful, but it also helps make everyone else’s life around me more enjoyable.

10 Ways to Cope with Stress without Making a Mess:

  1. Plan/Organize: Make a to-do list for the week. Check off each task once you’ve completed it, and continue to keep track of what has been done and what still needs to be done. This is a great way to time manage yourself and plan out your week before it gets too overwhelming.
  1. Clear Your Mind: Exercise is a great way to clear your mind, even if you’re not athletic. If it’s nice out, go for a walk outside. If you want to challenge yourself, go for a run! I’ve found that working out gives me even more motivation to get things accomplished after completing a workout.
  1. Eat Right: Even I can admit that after a long stressful day, all I want to do is curl up in bed and snack on any chocolate in reach. However, I’ve found that by opting for healthier foods not only improves my cholesterol (which is very high) but also gives me more energy throughout the day! I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but it’s all the true: the way you eat not only affects the way you look, but also affects the way you feel. You are more likely to have more energy throughout the day when you opt to healthier foods. I’ve found that packing healthy snacks on the go has helped me concentrate more in class, giving me a boost of energy. Making healthy food choices has also made me less cranky when the day ends.
  1. Limit Time on Social Media: Instead of staring into a screen, introduce yourself to a good book. Nothing is better than getting in bed after a long day and escaping reality with one of Nicholas Sparks’ novels or one of Joan River’s humorous books.
  1. Talk It Out: Even when you’re stressed, sometimes the best thing to do is to talk it out. Resorting to friends and family for advice or just to converse with one another can help ease your stress. You never know, they could be going through tough times too.
  1. Give Yourself a Break: Take a break. Cramming is only hurting you. Whether that entails taking a break in between studying or taking a vacation to get away, give yourself a break every once in a while.
  1. Keep a Journal: I’ve found that writing helps me collect all of my thoughts and uncover things I don’t normally like to talk about out loud. Keeping a journal is a great way to discover yourself and let go of whatever that may be holding you back.
  1. Breathe: Often times when we are faced with so much stress we forget what it’s like to breathe. One of my favorite things to do when I am overwhelmed is go to hot yoga. Not only is it a great workout, but it also helps clear my mind and focus on myself, nothing else. It helps me decompress after a long stressful day, and let go of any built up tension. It reminds me to live in the present and just breathe.
  1. Get a Good Night Sleep: Staying up all night to complete tasks/assignments is not worth it. Getting a good night sleep will help you think more clearly in the morning and help you recover from all of the stress. It’s so important to get enough sleep so that you can be productive the following day.
  1. Treat Yourself: Treat yourself every once in a while; you deserve it! Whether that is treating yourself to a spa day, a sports game, or even just eating that warm chocolate cake you’ve craved all week, you should always treat yourself, especially after you’ve accomplished so much!

Everyone stresses out for different reasons, and everyone handles their stress differently, but no one knows how to cope with their own stress better than you do. So here’s my advice: compile your own list of things that can essentially help calm you down throughout your stressful days. Resort to them every so often when you feel that tension piling up and see how much of a difference it makes you feel. In the moment, stress seems inescapable and that there’s no possible way to let go of all of the tension. But I have found manageable ways to cope with my own stress, without causing such a mess, and I know you can too!


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