Can stress be managed? Is relaxation a thing of the past?

I am currently on reading week, which was originally put in place to allow students time to take a mental health break and focus on studying before midterms start without the additional hassle of classes, assignments and other university related activities. But relaxation was always an important aspect of reading week. Anyone that is in university know that this is so far from true. Half of the people want to go somewhere warm, while the other half are completely aware that they will not be getting much of a break. Those that go somewhere warm spend weeks before stressing out trying to finish assignments in advance or come back stressed because they have to throw together assignments in a few days. Those that do not go away are just equally stressed the whole time, which may be better than having extreme highs and occasional lows. I never know which is worse, being stressed all the time, or having a few days of relaxation only to be super stressed for weeks after trying to catch up.

I spent Saturday celebrating Valentine’s day with my boyfriend and some friends. My boyfriend made me promise that I would take the day to relax and not focus on anything; he thought that he was doing me a favour, but I knew that I would be waking up early the next morning to catch up on my schedule. During my past four years at university I have heard about many techniques that help with stress:.

  1. Venting to friends–this results in me thinking that I am annoying them, so i only do this with certain friends.
  2. Journaling–at first this was great, but than I began to find journaling to be additional stress because I had to make time for it so I only do it when I absolutely need to
  3. Time management–Scheduling my entire life, this allows me to get everything done and occasionally I find time to put away homework and think about something else.
  4. Prioritizing– this is a joke because everything seems equally important and everything is way more important than my own personal needs.
  5. crying– at least once a week I allow myself a mental break where I just cry, this allows to clear away everything that is upsetting or stressing me out and start fresh
  6. exercise– great at the moment, but usually results in me being stressed because I gave up time doing assignments
  7. eating– stress eating is the worst thing ever, not only have I gained weight from it but I start to stress because of my weight gain, and the fact that clothes don’t fit right and I have no money to buy myself anything
  8. getting away from the city– this used to work great, than I got a WiFi Hot Spot, now I can do my homework anywhere, and people can reach me at any time of the day.
  9. breathing– I heard once that breathing deep for five minutes whenever stressed makes the stress go away, this person has clearly never went to university. Deep breathing only allowed for me to recall the two assignments that I completely forgot about the day before they were due… I would rather have just not remembered than and got bad marks than miss out on a day of sleep
  10.  Going out with friends– nope not even close to helping, cause you know that this means you are just going to be thinking of the assignment the whole time, unless you drink; which usually means you are wasting two days and even more  stressed afterwards.

There are a few things that I have found that works temporarily

  1. Screaming– when no one else  is home, or you are in your car alone just scream, for like five minutes, loudly and nonstop. Yes it seems childish but at least you feel good afterwards for a little bit.
  2. loudly listening and singing to music– this works especially good when you are driving, because its not like you can do homework anyway and it feels good.
  3. do not procrastinate– just suck it up, do the assignment quickly and get it  over with

This is all I have found that works but this does not mean I am ever actually relaxed.

After I finish one assignment I know there will be others, I have started scheduling my life, due dates, time needed to get assignments done, extra-curricular, personal commitments, and if I can find the time for it than I will add in some time to do nothing. I have reached a point in my life where I actually have to schedule time to do nothing, this may be a sign that life has become less about who I am and more about what I can accomplish. I used to love painting, and reading, and cooking but those quickly took a back seat to lesson planning, researching, assignments and studying. The last book I read was the book I am basing a unit plan on, the one before that was about a indigenizing the science curriculum; both important books but not read for personal enjoyment. Cooking has become a hassle, I have actually started to dread the thought of cooking supper because I just do not care enough anymore, I would rather eat sandwiches and microwave food for the next few years than to actually have to cook and clean up the mess. At some point my life went from doing things because I want to, to doing things because my schedule says that I have to.

I cannot imagine that just me feels this way, we have become a generation that cares so much about how much work we can do, because we know the only way to get a job is to work harder than anyone else, yet once we have a job we will just have to work hard to keep the job.

Reading week used to be considered a break, now it is just considered a time to get assignments done and maybe, if possible have a little bit of time to relax but that will be scarified if we have too much work to do.

5 thoughts on “Can stress be managed? Is relaxation a thing of the past?

  1. I understand the stress that comes with the school work that we have to do. Is there other strategies that you can implement to help you cope with tough stressors?
    Can you try to multi-task such as walk on a tread mill while working on school work or listening to music while you do school work?
    Can you hang out with friends and do school work together?
    Is there a way to do some school work then switch into something else then back to school work in order to chunk the load?
    Do what works best for you. Remember to give yourself the time you need to recharge before hitting the books again.
    I believe in you to get through this semester! We’re in this together.

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  2. Brooke, I feel your pain. I have been dealing with a lot this semester and I have not been able to keep up. Everyday feels like I have to just get things done in order to move on to the next thing. Hopefully soon we will feel the rewards of working hard. I also believe that we need to take time to be who we are, if not we will burn out. During this reading week I have been able to re-connect with my family and did it ever feel good. Not only did I not thing about assignments for a whole two days but I gave me back the motivation I need to continue on. Unfortunately, I feel this will be our lives for the next 6 years but after that we will be coasting.
    Cheers to relaxing in 2022!

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  3. You hit the nail on the head Brooke! I don’t think there is any “right” way to manage stress, it’s different for each person just as each person has different stresses. Celebrate the small things! even if it’s having a chance to scream at the top of your lungs! haha.

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  4. I feel your pain, girl! I stress every single day. I have incorporated some techniques into my everyday life that help, but I don’t think it will ever completely go away. At least for me. One technique that I really like is having a stress jar. Whenever I am stressing about something i write it down and put it in the jar. At night is the time where I stress the most, and so I take 10 minutes to read everything that I put in the jar, and that is the only time that day that I am allowed to stress. I like this technique because I don’t think it is reasonable to not stress at all. Instead of it hanging over your head all day, you only worry about it for 10 minutes.

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