I’m at that point in my degree programme where my feelings each day (and usually a few times during each day) vary from dreading uni being over in just a few short months to wishing it would never end, as May is far too soon. I know I’m not alone in this, and my anxieties, fear, excitement and anticipation come from exactly the same issues – which makes it even more confusing.
Am I looking forward to starting my career or scared that I wont get a job? Am I excited about what comes next or petrified that I have no idea what will happen? How can I be excited about something yet scared of the same thing… My brain is fried and I’m 100% sure I’m not the only one feeling this way.
Between work, uni, relationships, future planning, trying to have a social life, trying to keep fit and healthy, and trying to stay sane, it’s time to employ a coping strategy – else I’m going to just stay in my bed and overload on episodes of shows I’m not even interested in on Netflix (is this such a bad thing?!).
I am fiercely determined and ambitious; two qualities I’m proud of, yet at times it has led to my own self-destruction and definitely to unecessary levels of stress and exhaustion. Over time, I have had to figure out how to cope (and trust me, I haven’t done it on my own) so I’d love to share my thoughts with you all.
- Be reasonable – you will not be the only person feeling the way you are. Don’t add to your pressure by thinking no-one else will understand or no-one else has ever felt the same. It doesn’t matter how strong you are, sometimes life still gets overwhelming. And that is okay. Even superheroes have weaknesses – we all have our own kryptonite. Be reasonable in what you are asking of yourself. Know your limits and barriers and know that there will always be a solution and that there will be better days.
- Be pro-active – don’t sit back and wait for time to move on, and then be frustrated that you didn’t make the most of it or didn’t achieve what you wanted. Make a plan but be flexible so that if things change over time, your plan can evolve too. I know that I have a lot to do over the next few months and by setting deadlines and mini-goals it helps to minimise the anxiety of looking at the whole picture and not even knowing where to start on making a dent in it all.
- Be honest – don’t pretend things are okay if they’re not. Reach out to a friend, a family member, a lecturer or whoever you feel comfortable with. A problem shared is a problem halved, so the old saying goes. I don’t find it easy admitting that I’m struggling, so being honest with myself first and then with my incredible network of supporters are really important steps in managing stress.
- Be positive – I know how hard it can be to focus on the positives when feeling overwhelmed, but I break this right down and find one thing a day to be positive about. Even if it’s simply that a new episode of my favourite show airs that evening, or the class I enjoy most at the gym is on, or that I get to Skype with my crazy little nephew. You know what? Sometimes, just getting out of bed can be the positive for that day.
- Be self-aware – burying your head in the sand is not the best way to cope. The reason I know this is, because if I try to do it, my body gives up on me and I usually get a ‘nice’ bout of bronchitis. At that point, I really have to listen to what I’m clearly trying to tell myself – usually, “take a break, chill out and refocus”. We each react differently to stress, but there are usually physical indicators (tiredness, illness, abrupt changes in mood etc.) so get to know what yours are, learn to recognise them asap, and accept that if your body is giving you such an obvious message then you really should take note.
Even the most successful people face struggles and difficulties. What makes them successful is that they find ways to cope and manage their stress to ensure they pop out the other side to fight another day. Life isn’t easy and it isn’t straightforward. Don’t let that get you down. Embrace it. Ride the rollercoaster and have fun. When one door closes, another one opens (or use the window). There’s always light at the end of the tunnel.
I do love a ‘life gets better/life is good’ cliché (even if it’s just because searching for them gives me another reason to procrastinate on Pinterest!).