To manage stress effectively, make health a priority

If you feel stressed out, try taking a study break to spend time with friends and be social. Bonding with others can improve your mental, emotional and physical health. / Courtesy of Jeremy Wilburn

October break is just around the corner, and, for many of us, it seems that the transitional phase of the school year is just about over. Schedules are all but sorted out, auditions for various plays and musical groups have been held and ostensibly everyone has settled into their little niche of humanity.

Except for the people who haven’t.

Whether you’re a first-year, a transfer student or even a senior who is just trying for a fresh start, a lot of us assumed that we’d have our lives figured out by this time in the year—and a fair portion were wrong.

Our first tests did not go how we’d hoped they would, the circle of friends we made during orientation is rapidly deteriorating and we’re still unsure about how often to respond to our moms’ texts.

If you’re in this position, even if you don’t want to admit it, there’s something I’d like to say to you: it’s okay. Really. Because however long the past month may have felt, it will, in the end, comprise a little less than four percent of your years at Vassar (yes, I did the math).

So however hard or corny it might be, I hope that we can all use these moments of insecurity as an exercise in self-kindness. I hope that we can remind ourselves and each other that we are not alone, however much we may feel like it, and that sometimes these things just take time.

Now, I acknowledge that wishes and sentimental platitudes can only get you so far, so I also have some challenges for you. For starters, look up. Take notice of the people around you, interact with them and then let those experiences guide your decisions about your next step.

It can be a healthy exercise simply to notice that no, you’re really not the only one sitting alone at the Deece during breakfast; even so, I dare you to close that gap and ask if you can join someone new for a meal, even if you end up sitting there in awkward silence for 15 minutes (if you were wondering, those awkward minutes will take up less than one percent og your busy day).

With that being said, there is a difference between broadening your comfort zone and ignoring your personal boundaries. Trying new things is always encouraged, but I promise that all our grandmas were right—you don’t have to change who you are in order to find people to have fun with.

So go to a party even if you’re an introvert, but don’t shame yourself for leaving after an hour so that you can illegally stream a Disney movie with your housemates. If you listen to your needs and respect them as best you can, you’ll be in a better mental, physical and emotional space to bond with others and get your work done.

The goal is always for you to find your own personal happiness, and your way of achieving it might change multiple times in a day, or even in the span of an hour. Don’t shame yourself for partying too much (or not enough) and ignore the little voice inside your head calling you a dork when you choose to spend an evening in your room eating pasta and watching “Parks and Rec” before promptly falling asleep at the reasonable hour of 9 p.m.

Sometimes simply deciding to spend the night in eating snacks and binge watching Netflix, or simply taking a nap during the day to recharge, can improve your mood and health. / Courtesy of Pixabay

There will be plenty of nights to be wild and sociable, so don’t be afraid to give yourself a  pass every once in awhile. Spending time with yourself is worth it.

I’m sorry if your first months of college, or your first months back, were not everything you’d hoped they would be. I’m sorry if your friends’ Instagram accounts make you feel like you’re doing something wrong, or if your family’s academic expectations are causing you to stress.

Know that you are strong and smart and loved, and that you will eventually find your balance and your bliss. Don’t worry, you got this—you just might need to put in a little extra effort to get there.

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