On Stress and Coping

Today has been one of those monumentally stressful days I’ve had in a long time. Problems at work and deadlines at school have been taking a toll, and while I’m in the midst of preparing for finals, I thought I’d take a quick breath through writing.

It’s been a full month of full-time work, part-time school and full-time worry that I’ve been running on five hours of sleep, cups of coffee and irritability, and honestly, I am not coping all that well.

I think that I’ve sent myself into a shock, taking on more work on my plate– but despite it all, I am not regretful that I started going back to school at a time of my life where my full-time job is indispensable; after all, if not now, when? This current situation have brought me to important life realizations and have uncovered a lot of things I need to work on to improve my quality of life– and I believe that anything that will lead you to stretch and break from your comfort zone is essential to personal growth.

That said, I’m learning the fact that when dealing with changes, you have to allow yourself to change; and you have to also cope to these changes. I am taking a Psychology class as we speak and the chapter on stress is completely fitting to my life right now; my old ways of de-stressing– which I am ashamed to say were shopping and food, have not been effective; and learning a lot about the human mind really intensifies the fact that material things will never bring you joy nor lasting stress relief; seems like common sense but habits really do take out mindfulness from you– and studies show, mindfulness is key to lowering those stress levels.

So this upcoming month, I have decided to build on new habits. Coming from all these stressors made me realize that it is time I heal my body through a wholesome diet and exercise; and heal my mind through mindfulness-inducing activities. Here are five that I am challenging myself to take on this month:

  1. Yoga – I have tried yoga a couple of times in the last two years and even on those few times, yoga have always made me feel relaxed. I am definitely going to make time for this daily. I’ve also done a few research on yoga and have found that it is a considerable treatment to help manage anxiety and depression, and also reduce cortisol, the stress hormone!
  2. Meditation – Like yoga, I have tried meditation a few times awhile back using an app called Headspace. It is also an activity that promotes insightful thinking and there are also research done on its effectiveness as a stress-relief activity. I will be incorporating ten minutes of meditation daily now to help my anxiety.
  3. Quit coffee – Quitting is strong word, but if it will teach me self-discipline then it’s worth a try! Do you know that caffeine is a psychoactive drug? It’s socially acceptable and it’s so easy to be heavily dependent on it; and I am part of the society that drinks more coffee than water– the dependency I have for it requires more cups for me to get the effect I want… and of course, higher levels of caffeine leads to higher levels of anxiety. I know I won’t be going cold-turkey on this to be realistic but I’m definitely cutting it to one cup, black (no sugar nor dairy); until I’m able to only have it some days, then not have it at all.
  4. Exercise – The thought of working out have always felt like work to me, especially if it requires me to go to the gym BUT late last year I discovered spin classes and I love it! I always feel great after each class. I’ve finally quit the gym because honestly I never went, and also I know now that I get more motivation with group classes such as spin! It is true, find a workout that you have fun with! I’m also planning to try hot yoga and barre.
  5. More vegetables, less artificial added sugar and dairy – Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I lost weight. How? Honestly? I think it’s the stress. I didn’t change my eating habits, there were just more days I couldn’t find a time to sit down and eat. Did I want to lose weight like this? Of course not– there’s a huge difference between losing weight healthily and losing weight mindlessly– because the latter does not make you feel any healthier. Sure I’ve lost pounds but I’ve also lost a ton of sleep and a ton of energy. No good habits were formed in the process of losing the weight and the likelihood of me getting it all back still stands high if I don’t switch my diet. You can also see it in my skin as I’ve broken out more this week than any other week.

I’ve also gotten back to planning my day as this help me focus and manage my time. I’m just extremely tired of feeling tired and feeling like I could not hold it all together; and these real-life challenges can either bring you to a break down or a break through. The choice is yours.

Also, I’ve been simmering on long-term plans that brings me joy! Discovering my life purpose has always been a great deal and a great insecurity for me because it feels like I’ve been on that search for as long as I can remember; and finally I can say that I feel I am on my right path. I’ll definitely be talking more about this on my future posts but I’ll end this one with a realization that the universe will always bring you to the things meant for you; you just have to trust that everything is for your good.

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