Bouncing Back from Stress

The most stressful situations, when I feel overwhelmed and unhappy, are also some of the biggest challenges I’ve had to face. I like talking about any and all struggles I have because its been a huge part of my experience as a student and a big part of my experience involved believing that perfection is achievable (Spoiler Alert: It’s not). I’ve had people come back to me and tell me that they never believed me when I told them how tough simple things can seem for some people when they are going through stressful experiences, until they went through them themselves.

Wherever the stress comes from, when you are in school you have some stressors already (assignments, responsibilities) and any additional stress will just pile on and that’s why it’s often seen in the media that people experience burnout worldwide.

Most people know of the basic stressors of post secondary (college/university): exams/assignments, moving out on your own for the first time (potentially), dealing with new financial responsibility (rent, OSAP/loans, money management, etc.). In general, when people leave high school for post-secondary the school systems generally try to provide as much guidance as possible in order to make the transition as stress-free as possible.

Nipissing has some great resources for struggles you or anyone you know may have with transitioning from living with mom and dad to taking on new responsibilities and dealing with new stressors that don’t exist when you have less responsibility.

What do I actually do to “lift my spirits” and get back on track? Sometimes I can’t “bounce back” for a long period of time and it gets hard, and even when I try to lift my spirits things don’t always figure themselves out.

Here are some things I do that I’ve noticed help me:

Get Social

If I leave myself alone I find I get myself into a bigger funk than the one I’ve started with. Text a friend, call your mom, hug a dog/cat, go online and if you just do not feel like talking to someone and just chatting, listen to a podcast, watch a youtube vlog or even just a sitcom. Having someone talking to you even if it’s about some random topic or about what they had for lunch can be comforting and take your mind off of things.

Get a Pet

The first year or so of university I did not have a pet. Obviously pets are not feasible for most students but if you rent outside of residence, perhaps fostering a pet or adopting a smaller animal like a rabbit, rat, hamster, etc., from a shelter or from Kijiji is often a lot more inexpensive. Plus, you’re rescuing something which inherently will bring good feelings to you. I had a rabbit for a year and in a weird situation, I ended up trading the rabbit for a goldendoodle and he has made me super happy. Dogs really are man’s best friend. If you can’t get one, go visit one whether at a friend’s house, in residence when they have the therapy dogs come in, or at a shelter.

For when you just can’t

Some days you “just can’t”. Some days are hard. You are in school, it is different levels of stressful for so many people. Some people go in and come out feeling 100%. Some people do not finish their degrees.

Some days, being mentally exhausted is the same as having a flu or a cold. When this happens you should stay home and take a sick day. Some people overwork themselves and don’t realize until the last moment that they are upset and stressed out. Even though sometimes people say “if you just go out/go to school/go to work you’ll feel better” and that it is true a lot of the time but sometimes it’s beyond that and I think the stigma should be removed from missing the occasional shift or class. If you find yourself constantly missing class or work you should contact a doctor, receive medical help and look over your options. While it may be an option to take some time off from one of them, it may be an option to just continue on and try some new techniques. Every individual is different.

Sometimes failing at doing what you are expected to do is better for you than it is to actually complete the task. Sometimes life gives more second chances than you would think, though I won’t deny the lemons it sends your way, and I won’t deny the demons either. I’ve succeeded at some things that I had to fail at first. I’ve had success with no failure. I have also just had plain failure and have surrendered (damn guitar).

In all seriousness, take care of yourself. Don’t let things get worse – trust me when I say you don’t want that experience.

Everything is able to be bounced back from, some things just take longer for some people than it takes for others. Do what you feel like you need to do for you.

Everyone around you is living and working on a different path than yourself and the one thing I’ve loved about Nipissing is that I always see such a huge mutual respect between students. There is almost a subconscious agreement between all of us that we are all together on this life journey of education and that’s a pretty cool feeling to share.

Take care of yourselves. Don’t let issues spiral out of control, take advantage of the resources you have while at school because not all workplaces are as accommodating with mental health issues (though I do see the times slowly changing).

I’m absolutely certain that this post may not apply to many people but it is intended for those who have experiences similar to myself and have a harder time dealing with stress.

Until next time,

– Sarah