So, the world feels like it's falling on you; but it's not.

I Asked Some Friends How They Deal With Stress, And Here's What They Said

Listen to some music or take a nap, it's gonna be fine.

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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 omg

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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!

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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

Take control.

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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!

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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, tbh

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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 now

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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

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PSA: Keep Your Body-Negative Opinions Away From Little Girls This Summer

But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with.

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It's officially swimsuit season, y'all.

The temperature is rising, the sun is bright and shining, and a trip to the beach couldn't look more appealing than it does right now. This is the time of year that many of us have been rather impatiently waiting for. It's also the time of year that a lot of us feel our most self-conscious.

I could take the time to remind you that every body is a bikini body. I could type out how everyone is stunning in their own unique way and that no one should feel the need to conform to a certain standard of beauty to feel beautiful, male or female. I could sit here and tell you that the measurement of your waistline is not a reflection of your worth. I completely believe every single one of these things.

Hell, I've shared these exact thoughts more times than I can count. This time around, however, I'm not going to say all these things. Instead, I'm begging you to push your insecurities to the side and fake some confidence in yourself when you're in front of others.

Why?

Because our negative self-image is toxic and contagious and we're spreading this negative thinking on to others.

We're all guilty of this, we're with family or a friend and we make a nasty comment about some aspect of our appearance, not even giving a single thought to the impact our words have on the person with us. You might think that it shouldn't bother them- after all, we're not saying anything bad about them! We're just expressing our feelings about something we dislike about ourselves. While I agree that having conversations about our insecurities and feelings are important for our mental and emotional health, there is a proper and improper way of doing it. An open conversation can leave room for growth, acceptance, understanding, and healing. Making a rude or disheartening remark about yourself is destructive not only to yourself, but it will make the person you are saying these things around question their own self worth or body image by comparing themselves to you.

My little sister thinks she's "fat." She doesn't like how she looks. To use her own words, she thinks she's "too chubby" and that she "looks bad in everything."

She's 12 years old.

Do you want to know why she has this mindset? As her older sister, I failed in leading her by example. There were plenty of times when I was slightly younger, less sure of myself, and far more self-conscious than I am now, that I would look in the mirror and say that I looked too chubby, that my body didn't look good enough, that I wished I could change the size of my legs or stomach.

My little sister had to see the older sibling she looks up to, the big sis she thinks always looks beautiful, say awful and untrue things about herself because her own sense of body image was warped by media, puberty, and comparing herself to others.

My negativity rubbed off onto her and shaped how she looks at herself. I can just imagine her watching me fret over how I look thinking, "If she thinks she's too big, what does that make me?"

It makes me feel sick.

All of us are dealing with our own insecurities. It takes some of us longer than others to view ourselves in a positive, loving light. We're all working on ourselves every day, whether it be mentally, physically, or emotionally. But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with, our struggles and insecurities should not form into their own burdens.

Work on yourself in private. Speak kindly of yourself in front of others. Let your positivity, real or not, spread to others instead of the bad feelings we have a bad habit of letting loose.

The little girls of the world don't need your or my negative self-image this summer. Another kid doesn't need to feel worthless because we couldn't be a little more loving to ourselves and a lot more conscious of what we say out loud.

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The Things Nobody Told Me About Depression, But I Really Wish Somebody Would Have

I was diagnosed with depression six months ago. These are some of the things that I wish I had known sooner.

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There are a ton of things about having depression that no one will tell you. For example, something that no one ever told me about depression is that I have it.

I was diagnosed with depression in December of 2018 - just six months ago. But my therapist tells me that, based on what I've said about my mental state, I've likely had depression since elementary school, if not earlier.

The fact that I've had depression for so long and not know about it only goes to show how easy it is for one to live with mental health issues and never know it.

The fact that I apparently developed depression at such an early age only goes to show that mental health issues do not exclusively affect people only after they have lived and experienced all that life can throw at them.

The fact that I have had a pretty good life - a loving family, success in academics, never experiencing severe poverty - only goes to show that mental health issues are not always caused by shitty life experiences and traumas.

These are all things that no one ever told me about depression, and things that I never knew until I got to college and took a psychology class focused on mental health issues.

I did not know that depression can hide for years without you ever knowing about it.

I did not know that depression can manifest even in young children.

I did not know that depression can affect even those living happy lives.

These are things no one tells you about depression.

These are things that I had to learn by myself, and things that I am still learning how to compromise with the reality of my own life experience.

It's no one person's fault that I didn't know these things, it was the fault of a societal system that didn't know it needed to be concerned with such things. The early 2000s, when my young brain was developing and learning how to cope with the world, were not exactly focused on mental health in children. By the time people realized that children were suffering from depression and anxiety at earlier and earlier ages, I had already been living with my own issues for years, and I thought that my experiences and interpretations of the world around me was normal - that this was how everybody felt, that this was all normal. I didn't think that the symptoms that our counselors and teachers warned about at the beginning of each school year applied to me.

Nobody told me that depression isn't always sadness and crying.

Nobody told me that sometimes depression is a creeping grey numbness that clouds your brain. That sometimes it is a blurring and a muting of your emotions until you feel nothing at all. That such nothingness is worse than any level of sadness you would ever feel.

Nobody told me that depression isn't constant.

Nobody told me that I would have good days amid the bad ones. That every now and then, a day in a week or a day in a month or a day in a blue moon, I would have all of my emotions sharp and bright and my smiles would be as soft as they were genuine and I would relish the taste of the air around me. That these good days don't invalidate the bad days and mean that I don't have depression after all.

Nobody told me that once I was diagnosed with depression it would simultaneously feel like a weight had been lifted and like a punch to the gut all at once.

Nobody told me the relief that I would feel at the explanation and the knowledge that I might not always have to live like this. That I would also feel my understanding of my life flipped upside down, because if the way I have been experiencing the world is because of a disease, then what does that mean for the validity of my life and who I am?

Nobody told me that there would be a part of me that feared to get better, because who would I be without depression? Without this parasite that has somehow been such a constant throughout my life?

Nobody told me that I would begin to question which parts of my personality are "real" and which parts of me are the depression?

And if those two things can even be separate? And if so, will I ever be able to say I am better, if these parts of me developed through depression are still a part of me once I am "recovered"?

Nobody told me how scary that thought would be.

But what people have told me is that recovery is possible. They have told me that life gets better. That those good days that I used to find - unexpected yet welcome - could become my normal day. That I can be my own person, separate from my depression, and I can grow stronger, and happier, and more vibrant and more driven and MORE.

These are the things that people have told me, and these are the things that I remind myself of.

Nobody told me how lonely depression can be, but I hope that this article might make you feel a little less alone, and a little more prepared, and a little more understood.

I am not an expert. I still do not know everything, and my experience is my own, and in no way represents a majority or speaks on behalf of everyone out there suffering from depression. But I know now that I am not alone in my own experiences, and I hope that whoever is reading this, if you need it, maybe now you can know that you are not alone in yours.

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