This past week, as I was scrolling through Facebook, procrastinating as usual, I stumbled upon a post that reached it's virtual arms out, grabbed my attention, and just wouldn't let go.
It wasn't anything spectacularly interesting or even a precious little kitty playing with a box; it was simply a picture of some text. But the words have stuck with me. Here it is:
Of course, being an almost 22, I knew deep down that stress is quite harmful to our bodies and in multiple ways. It's one of those things that you hear and think, "Well, duh."
I think the problem is, though, that people don't realize how harmful it really is and can be. I think we've all grown accustomed to feeling stressed beyond belief, and we've grown up knowing that stress is just a part of everyday life.
I think it's sort of unfair that we, as humans, in general, are put under such intense stress every day that it's affecting our abilities to actually be human.
So often it's the things that we stress over that require us to learn and remember things, make rational and appropriate decisions, and everything else that goes along with it.
For example: school. We're expected to memorize and recite information all of the time. We spend hours upon hours studying and memorizing and freaking out about remembering that one tiny fact that will certainly be on that test, and by worrying and stressing, we're just being counterproductive. It just hurts more than it helps.
It doesn't just last a few days or weeks either. It's nine or ten full months, with only minimal breaks occasionally, and we're still assigned work to do while we're on break.
This doesn't even include the stress of things outside of school, like work, relationships (both platonic and romantic), our home lives, our health and everything else.
And our teachers and professors still expect us to be on our A games 100% of the time.
We shouldn't be punished or reprimanded for needing a second to breathe. Taking mental health days is still considered unacceptable in most cases. Even if we're in the midst of a mental breakdown, ugly crying, and on the brink of hyperventilating, we're supposed to suck it up, wipe our noses, and get our booties to class. If students are allowed to miss class because they have a headache and a sore throat, then we should be allowed mental health days, too.
There will always be that one person who ruins it for everyone by saying they've had a more challenging day than usual and just can't find it in themselves to get to class and be productive when they're really at the pub downtown, having a few drinks with friends, and, therefore, ruining the trust we've worked hard to earn from our professors. There will always be those people.
But at the same time, if I'm having an awful day, feeling stressed to the max, and I've spent the last 45 minutes snotting all over my poor, innocent pillowcase, then I think it should be okay for me to say I can't manage going to class.
There's few things worse than sitting in class, staring at your paper or laptop and not being able to focus on anything because you're too distracted by whatever is happening just outside of that classroom. When I'm in that state, it's almost the same as if I hadn't come to class at all. I barely pay attention so I don't actually learn anything and I do the bare minimum to get whatever in-class assignment we have done.
We shouldn't take these things so lightly. We need to start promoting mental health awareness by accepting other people's limits and not belittling them. We should talk about it. Bottling things up is not healthy in any way.
So since we're almost to the end of the semester and finals week, my message to you is to not over exert yourself. I'm not saying you shouldn't study or finish that 10 page paper on the history of whatever. You definitely should get your work done on time and finish out the semester strong.
But you should also be aware of what your body is telling you. Take care of yourself during these last few weeks. Drink lots and lots of water. Eat an apple once in a while. Google some tips for more efficient studying and stuff. Vent to your BFF about what is stressing you out and accept help when you can. And it more than likely means nothing coming from me, the Queen of Stress and Anxiety, but don't fret over the little things. Focus on what's important and power through.