So I'm writing this whilst in-class essay finals are waiting to attack me. In other words, I'm procrastinating; but I see it as releasing my mind from studying for a while.
It's crazy how calm I look/feel sometimes when all of these things are just piling up haha the bright side of it is that I'm not constantly putting up this stress on me. I'm calmer than I was before because I learned some things along the way. One of which was self-advocacy.
Advocate for yourself when you feel like the whole world is falling on you. I don't think we were ever programmed to just stress out 24/7. We don't deserve to put that on ourselves because that is not self-respect. Tell yourself that it's okay to cry, to step back even for a while. Coming into university, I have to admit that I went through some stress and anxiety. It went to the point when I realized that it was time I gave up my pride.
I thought there were some special remedies that I needed, but it turns out: I was already doing what I was supposed to be doing. It started with me realizing that too much was too much and being confident enough to take things one at a time.
As time passed, I found more ways that calmed my mind. Vocalizing what I had to prioritize and having supervisors/directors and professors/teaching assistants understand helped...a lot. I can't say that anxiety is totally gone because, well, it's finals week. There will be times when I'm laying in my bed, and suddenly this wave of stress and anxiety will just overcome me. My time here has taught me a lot of myself; and while it's taught me those negativities, it's also taught me love and patience (sorry, I had to put Ari's song somehow). It's taught me how to cope with stress in a way that makes me feel less overwhelmed with the work in front of me.
I always asked for tips from my friends because I was just a lost little bee. I asked for study tips and what type of environment helps them study well. I never got around to asking them how they coped with stress because, well, the question never came up. It wasn't until my friends showed me subtle ways of self-care that I found just how easy it is to step back. I wanted to share some responses they gave on how they cope with stress. When I read these, I saw how similar we were (like, wow, it's just so nice to know that I'm not the only one who procrastinates!!); I also learned some new ways.
1. Finding an escape
There are some talented people out there omgGiphy
Most of my stress comes from things that are out of my control, so to cope with it, I do things that allow me to do things freely. I especially like sketching on my notebook because it allows me to create something from nothing and it gives me the ability to control whatever I choose to put out on paper. There are so many things on my mind when I'm stressing out, but drawing something from that chaos gives me peace.
- Diwana Lucero, UCLA '20 | Psychobiology
2. Focusing on something else
Listen to something else besides the stress. Listen to your heart... or your stomach; once you do, let's go get ramen!Giphy
I cope with stress by either eating, hanging out with my friends, or sleeping. I feel like those serve as the most impactful distractions for myself and allow me forget about the problems momentarily. When stressed, I tend to use up a lot of energy overthinking a majority of things which makes me exceptionally hungry. I savor every bite of my meal to avert my focus away from the stress. Sometimes, I go out with my friends and just talk. We talk about the cause of my stress and also about other things. I think this allows a good release of negative thoughts and energy and it most times clears my mind. Sleeping, however, is my best coping mechanism for stress. Whatever predicaments I come across become less concerning after a good rest. Such rest relaxes my tense muscles and gives my brain a chance to recalibrate to become replenished. These are all of my coping strategies; in sufficient time, however, stress is bound to retreat from our bodies as we find more positive focal points in our lives.
- Jenny Chun, UCI '21 | Cognitive Science
3. Externalizing the stress
I cope with stress by writing down everything that I have to do. As college students, it's no doubt that we are all overwhelmed with homework, studying, and even simple tasks like doing laundry. Sometimes, these things become so overbearing and we even forget to take care of ourselves. By writing everything out, I'm able to visually see and assess my problems. I do this because if I keep everything in my head, I feel that every task intensifies and I jumble it up with the million other things I have to do. But once you write everything out, you see that it isn't in fact a million things — but a smaller amount of things that can be done with careful planning and organizing. I like to list down my tasks, and tell myself to take it easy and to take it day by day. The list can seem so tedious to look at, so this is why it's important to also separate what needs to be done immediately, and what can be completed throughout a couple of days. It's also a very rewarding experience once I finish a task, and cross it off from the list. This rush of excitement then motivates me to finish the rest of my tasks.
When writing everything down still doesn't work, I like to engage in the wonderful art of karaoke (lmao, Bea). There's something about singing my heart out (even when I'm not amazing) that lets me release stress. Karaoke isn't an escape mechanism where I can forget the things I'm stressed about. Rather it's a way for me to address these things, and reduce their impact by singing the stress out.
- Beatriz Cuenco, UCI '21 | International Studies
4. Avoiding the problem
A positive twist to procrastinating: diamonds are made under pressure!Giphy
When it comes to stress, I feel so overwhelmed with all my emotions that instead of doing something to cope with it I just avoid the problem itself. Academically, I procrastinate on a lot of things so stressing is a common feeling for me. I probably stress every day, and even though I know it's better to just do my work or face my problems I can't make myself do it because I'm too lazy. If I'm feeling overwhelmed, I just take naps or distract myself by going on social media. This isn't a good way to cope but it helps me forget about my problems temporarily. I am reluctant to try other coping mechanisms for stress because I feel like they won't work for me and that all I really need to do to stop stressing about work is to actually start doing my work.
- Dora Cabrales, UCI '21 | Business Administration
4. Planning out actions
Planning has its advantages, tbhGiphy
In moderate times of stress, I plan what I'm going to do next in order to resolve it. For example, if I'm really stressed about the feeling that I can't cram enough time to study, I plan how I can study and give myself mental boundaries. These include resisting the temptation to procrastinate and realizing that time is so short. In extreme times of stress, I simply engage myself in the present by following my breath, re-feeling my feet, or feeling whatever sensation stands out the most. It allows me to remind myself that most of what's happening is in my mind and that the present is far more stable than what my mind images it to be.
- Byron Briones, UCLA '20 | Political Science
5. Step away from reality
Look at the little doggo omgg be that dog and just wave goodbye to reality for nowGiphy
I cope with stress by hanging out with friends and processing with them!!! Honestly, video games are such great distractions from real life! If it gets too much, I usually just need the time to be physically away from the spaces that I am involved in and the ones that are causing me stress
- Justin Suarez, UCLA '20 | International Development Studies