Hi there, loves.
I’ve been a little slow getting a new post up this week because I’ve been all over the place the last few days, but I’m taking a break between my internship, one last class presentation for the semester, and studying for my upcoming finals to update the blog.
Can I confess something to you? I tell you that because there’s a part of me that loves that look of mild horror people get when I talk about my schedule.
“Two Master’s degrees at once? Well, that’s ambitious.”
It’s kind of gross really. What is it in me that wants to be impressive so badly? It’s not quite enough just to do well and be happy. I want to exceed expectations in order to feel comfortable. I want to do that extra little bit. I want to be the one who will do what you need done. I want to have thought of that thing everyone else forgot. I want to be smart and thoughtful and special. I like the way it sounds, and I like the way it feels. At least most of the time. Because sometimes it feels like nausea and a headache in a humid bedroom full of the scent of Vick’s Vaporub and chicken noodle soup.
The thing is, despite all my desire to be overworked and over-performing, I’m really not all that great under pressure. I don’t remember ever once making it through finals without getting sick. It’s always terribly inconvenient because it’s the exact moment that I can’t afford to be sick, but it makes sense when I think about it. When things get hectic and my stress level skyrockets, I tend to drop things just as they become especially important, things like self care. When everything feels like it’s due TODAY, I am more likely to give up any semblance of healthy eating habits or exercise or a regular sleep schedule or spending time with people I love or any kind of spiritual disciplines than to give up any of my more “impressive” activities. I run my frazzled mind and poor immune system into the ground on occasion, because I’m not graded on my self care. I can’t turn that in, so I let it slide. After all, it’s just temporary, right?
And that works just fine, until it doesn’t.
Now don’t get me wrong; I don’t have some superhuman work ethic here. I procrastinate like a champ (Hello, I’m blogging when I really need to be studying or sleeping right now).
But that’s not the same as self care. Procrastination is not Sabbath. It’s not rest. It’s just perpetuating the stress cycle by distracting myself from finishing the thing I’m stressed about while it continues to nag at the back of my mind. I can’t really even enjoy whatever I’m doing instead of working because I know I really should be doing something else. Eventually that level of of continually elevated stress combined with close contact with a bunch of other students and professors doing the exact same thing means I am going to (a) get a migraine, (b) catch whatever bug is going around, or (c) all of the above. It’s not a matter of if, but when.
So what if I gave that up right now? What if I replaced my procrastination with some scheduled, intentional rest, right there in the middle of all those overly detailed to-do lists of mine? I have a sneaking suspicion that a little bit of guilt-free relaxation sprinkled into the grind might make this next week (and my life in general) feel more manageable. It might make me healthier and a hell of a lot nicer to be around. It might even make me stop for a second and realize that Thanksgiving has past, Advent has begun, and Christmas is coming. And that is definitely worth a deep breath and a Christmas carol before exam review.
How do you take care of yourself when life gets stressful? What are some of your favorite practices to stay calm and healthy?