How To Distinguish Regular Stress From Stress On Your Mental Health

How To Distinguish Regular Stress From Stress On Your Mental Health

College can be stressful. I mean, I'm only three weeks into my freshman year and I've already had more breakdowns than I can count. Here's the crazy fact though—everyone is feeling the same way, and it is completely normal.


Now, I am someone who will talk openly about my mental health. I have a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and anxiety called Trichotillomania which is just one long fancy word to say, "Hey! I pull my hair out when I get anxious!" Like anything, there is spectrum of different cases. I know some people who pull straight from the top of their scalp while I just pull from my eyebrows and eyelashes, and luckily we live in an age where makeup is an art form and mascara is only $7 at Walmart.

Something that commonly comes with anxiety is depression, which can be entirely aggravating because I will sit in my bed, binge watching "Friends," being depressed for no reason except I had just the right amount of chemicals in my genetic makeup that makes my brain under-produce serotonin. Since my junior year of high school, I have been seeing a therapist and I will preach to the choir when I say that everyone should see one. This, however, is not the point of the article.

When you have something like OCD, anxiety or depression it becomes so easy to assume that every unhappy emotion is only a side effect from your mental illness. I am here to tell you that this is not the case. As stated before, I have had many breakdowns since I began college. All of my tears were justifiable. Missing your friends who live over 13 hours away is a valid reason to cry. Going through sorority recruitment and not being invited back to the chapters you liked is a valid reason. Being stressed because you haven't been in school in months and can't remember how to even form proper sentence structures is a valid reason.

During one of my counseling sessions, I was going on about how nervous I was about something small like my grades in school. My therapist took it in and explained to me how there is such a thing as "good stress" and "bad stress.". Good stress is when you are anxious over things like making new friends or going to a place you've never been. It's those wasps in your stomach making you feel sick when you are about to move into dorm room with a person you've never met hoping to God that they don't already hate you. Everyone gets nervous over these things, one would be ridiculous not to. It's called "good" because it is almost a positive thing to be afraid of. We want to make a positive impression on people and we want positive memories to be made in these new adventures.

Bad stress is almost entirely the same, except it is more irrational. To be perfectly honest, these descriptions are coming entirely from my own personal experiences as well as my memory from A.P. Psychology at my high school. An irrational fear or stress is when your brain decides to start spiraling with intrusive thoughts. For me, my intrusive belief is that I am a boring person, no matter how many times my friends tell me otherwise, when I am at my peak stress level my brain gangs up on me. Yet, here I am in college surrounded by a constant flow of excitement and I am sitting in a bush crying because I am confused about who i want to be in college.

I know for a fact that I am not the only person thinking this, and I know for fact that after I am done crying that I will go out and be happy once again. This is just life, and even people who don't have anxiety get anxious and people who don't have depression have sad days. It is completely normal and at some point, you just have to accept it for what it is.

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A list Of 15 Inspiring Words That Mean So Much

A single word can mean a lot.

Positivity is so important in life. A lot of times we always go to quotes for empowerment but I have realized that just one word can be just as powerful. Here is a list of inspiring words.

1. Worthy

Realizing your self-worth is important. Self-worth can really make or break a persons personality. Always know that you are worthy of respect. And also, never compare yourself to others.

2. Courage

Be courageous in life. Life has so many opportunities so do not be scared to grasp any opportunity that comes your way. You have the ability to do anything you have your heart and mind set to do, even the things that frighten you.

3. Enough

When you are feeling down and feeling that nothing you do is ever good enough, know that you are more than enough. And yes there is always room for improvement but when it comes to my self-worth I always have to remind myself that I am enough.

4. Blessed

Be thankful. A lot of times we forget how blessed we are. We focus so much on stress and the bad things that are going on in our lives that we tend to forget all of the beautiful things we have in life.

5. Focus

Focus on your goals, focus on positive things, and focus on the ones you love. Do not focus on things that will keep you from not reaching your goals and people that do not have good intentions for your life.

6. Laugh

Laughing is one of the best forms of medicine. Life is truly better with laughter.

7. Warrior

Through the good and the bad you are a warrior. Be strong, soldier.

8. Seek

Seek new things. Allow yourself to grow in life. Do not just be stuck.

9. Faith

During the bad times, no matter the circumstances, have faith that everything will be all right.

10. Live

Start living because life is honestly way too short. Live life the way you want to live. Do not let anyone try to control you.

11. Enjoy

Enjoy everything that life has to offer. Enjoy even the littlest of things because, as I said before, life is short. And plus, there is no time to live life with regrets.

12. Believe

Believe in yourself and never stop. Believing in yourself brings so many blessings and opportunities in your life.

13. Serendipity

A lot of times we look for things to fill an empty void that we have. Usually what we are looking for comes when we are not looking at all. Your serendipity will come.

14. Create

Share your ideas with the world. Creativity brings change to your life. However you chose to use your creativity do not be scared to show your intelligence, talent, and passion.

15. Love

The world is already full of so much hate, so love unconditionally with all your heart.

Cover Image Credit: Tanveer Naseer

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Better Not Bitter

"Let your past make you better, not bitter."


After completing my junior year at Iowa State, I have found myself reflecting on a lot of the experiences and people who have helped me get to the point I am at today. Family obviously comes to mind, followed by my friends, my sorority sisters, my boyfriend, my professors, and my mentors. I am able to contribute a lot of my success to their support and compassion that they have shown me throughout my past three years. I am also able to contribute my success to the woman I have grown to be and to the woman I have always wanted to be. You see, three years ago, the woman I was was buried in a toxic relationship that didn't allow me to flourish into the woman I was striving to be.

Let me take a step back, this article is not meant to bash the person who it is about. In fact, it's more of a thank you. Because you see, without him letting go of me, I would have never taken the leaps and bounds out of my comfort zone to become the woman I am so damn proud to be today. This is also not meant to say that I am I glad I was in such a toxic relationship, it was honestly so terrible that I wouldn't wish it upon anyone but I am in fact, thankful. I learned more from that relationship that I have in anything else in my life.

First, I learned to be a fighter, and not in a bad way. I learned to stand up for myself and what I believe in. I have become vocal about my passions and stand up for people when they are treated wrong. I no longer let people walk all over me, but rather I stand my ground firmly and confidently. Thank you.

Second, I learned to be fierce. Fierce in love, kindness, compassion, and willpower. I believe in my abilities and the things I am able to accomplish if I set my mind to something. I have learned that in being fierce, there is absolutely no time to doubt myself which has worked greatly in my favor. I learned that demanding respect in all relationships I have formed has been about me making the decision to make myself a priority and learning to never settle for any less than I deserve, ever again. Thank you.

Third, I learned compassion. I learned to be kind to the other woman, and mostly, to the person who chose to hurt me. It took everything in me to remain kind while I was being hurt, but I am so thankful that I stayed true to the values and morals I was raised on. I have carried this with me throughout the past three years by choosing to show compassion to all people around me, and looking deeper into the reasons behind the actions and decisions that people make. Often times there is something going on behind closed doors and because of that, it is important to always, always radiate kindness. Thank you.

I wanted to extend my gratitude to the person who hurt me because if you hadn't, I wouldn't be the badass, boss girl, powerful woman that I am today. I am confident, smart, loving, and fully capable of giving and receiving the kindest, most sincere kind of love. My life has changed for the better, and I wouldn't change a single thing. I wish you the best, because let me tell ya, it feels great.

By the way, if you ever feel like you deserve better than what you're receiving in a relationship, trust your gut & walk the hell away. It's worth it.

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