October 24, 2014 Leave a comment
With the craze of midterm week finally dying down, it’s time to get back to basics. For me, that means endless Netflix-binging, book reading, and procrastination-not-doing. Everyone has something, not quite a hobby, not quite doing nothing, but a preferred method of productive inactivity. Over the course of my academic growth in stress management, I’ve realized inactivity can actually be the most productive way to spend a free afternoon. Self-care is incredibly important in whatever way it expresses itself.
When it’s hell week, and my “free” time is really just when I’m slightly less constantly busy, having time to myself can really be crucial to my mindset and emotional state. Everyone has something, whether it expresses itself in video games, TV, or going for a run. For the extroverted types, it can be catching up with some friends and blowing off steam together. For those who need time to themselves to recuperate and recover, it can be reading or watching TV. The important thing is to be doing absolutely nothing and giving yourself a break. Hey, college is hard and these are crucial years of our youth – we deserve to kick back a little.
Stress can be one of the most damaging forces to overall health and productivity. Ironically, yes, the more work you’re assigned, the less likely it is you will finish all of it to the best of your ability. Anyone who has been in the Ath in the wee hours of the morning knows, when you’re trying to polish off an essay in a caffeine-fueled haze of deadlines and anxiety, you are not going to come up with your best work. You are not even going to get close. Additionally, prolonged stress can lower your immune system. High anxiety leads to a crappy diet of Easy-mac and Ramen, less sleep, and general illness. There’s a reason the Goucher Plague moves so quickly among students, and we can’t blame everything on Stimson. Just most things.
We’ve all heard the tips from ACE: space out your work, try not to leave things to the last minute, email your professor if you’re struggling with an assignment. These are great tips, and the psychology behind these are to avoid stress and freaking out. A relaxed mind is the most productive way to actually get stuff done instead of freaking out over not finishing the assignment, wasting valuable time and mental resources.
So, in the end, yes, we all get stressed out. Even the Type-A color-coded Excel sheet people who seem to have everything in order get stressed out. The important thing is to manage it, and then use it to make yourself a better student. Sometimes, you’ll be too stressed to do work, and that’s fine. It’s not the end of the world – paint your nails, play some Frisbee, go to the SRC, watch an episode (or season) of a show you like, go pet Lucy. Do what you gotta do. I’m not directly saying blow off assignments, but you are important too. Maybe push them back an hour or so, and then start from a better place. You will be much happier.