“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” –Steve Maraboli
Let’s talk about stress. Let’s talk about the chaos that causes stress. Whomever said that your high school years are the glory days was doing it wrong. College is by far the epitome of the “glory days.” It is a time for learning in countless ways—academically of course, but there is so much opportunity for self-exploration and realization. Socially, college is a happening time for most; however, it is also full of stressors and responsibilities. Those that manage to pull off a successful, well-rounded college experience both socially and academically, are usually running on fumes by their last semester.
Last semester, my light at the end of the tunnel was graduating and ridding myself of the huge weight college posed on my shoulders. Every time I started to panic over the hundreds of pages I had to write or hours of research I had to conduct, I would just think that in a few short months, I would be stress free. I would be done with all of the college chaos and move on to the workforce. Simple as that. Get up. Work. Freedom. Sleep. (Repeat).
I definitely was in for a surprise when after I graduated, I still found myself stressed and with a stomach full of knots. An engagement and a corporate career should have made me happy and quashed any of the typical anxiety graduates have over finding jobs or dating. What I discovered about myself is that if there is nothing eminent or looming over my head, I will find something for which I will become stressed. Even good things—I will find some aspect of activities or events I enjoy to worry about and find stressful. How fun is that???
It was important for me to realize this about myself though. I will naturally create nonexistent chaos to elicit stress if I don’t have anything to actually stress over. Perhaps it is because ‘stressed’ was my status quo for such a long period of time. Perhaps I am just crazy (but I am willing to take a guess that I am not the only one doing this!). Regardless of the reasoning, self-created stress over virtually nothing is unhealthy.
So, what can a person do about it? Easy (okay not really, but if I had started the sentence with “Hard. …” would you have kept reading?). Take control. I have compiled a list of five actions I am taking in order to really “take control of what [I] do have power over.” I hope these can help others who create stress for themselves.
Remind yourself why you are doing what you are viewing as stressful. Be honest. If your less than stellar job is stressing you out, and the only reason on Earth you are subjecting yourself to such misery is the paycheck, okay. Or perhaps in a slightly merrier situation where work is stressing you out, but you’re doing the work because you know that your efforts will result in your company being awarded a contract. Whatever the case may be, know why you are doing something stressful, and be honest about it. This will help you eliminate stressors that are just not worth the worry.
Fully commit to what you are doing. You have determined WHY you are enduring stress, so commit to that outcome. Fully. There is this notion that your twenties is the time to be wishy-washy and be a commitment-phobe. Sure, figure out who you are and who you are not before you get hot and heavy in a career, become financially and legally bound to another person, and bring life into this world. Great point. However, your twenties is also when you should be planting some roots for yourself and committing with your full essence to things that are going to better you in your future. Don’t just go through the motions. Own where you are, who you are, and what you have to do. If you don’t rise to the occasion, you won’t take control over it; it will own you. Stick with what you have to do to get where you want to be even if it sucks for a while.
Plan ahead. Even if you are a procrastinator, plan ahead in order to eliminate factors of a situation that you know will stress you out. For me this means that every Sunday evening, I iron enough pants and blouses to get me through a week of work. This way I don’t start my mornings panicked over office attire, and I can focus on the day ahead of me. In other words, try to do one thing a day that is going to eliminate dread when you first wake up the following morning. Be nice to yourself!
Get excited! This relates back to fully committing. Okay, this deadline bites, pretty much no matter how you cut the cookie. BUT, you can make it be significantly less horrible if you invest in it. Control the situation surrounding it, and commit to meeting it. Get excited when you’ve completed a job. Celebrate the small wins. That’s really all life is…a series of events that completely rely on your perception.
Eliminate what doesn’t matter. If after you’ve gone through all of these steps, you find that there is still something eating at you, really look at it. Is it even something that makes sense for you to attempt to control? If not, then accept it for what it is, and move on. This is really tough, but so far I have yet to find a better way to handle this situation.
There you have it. These are just some ways that I have laid out for myself in my journey towards coping with stress. How about you? I’d love input on ways others handle stress!