Getting through stressfull periods in life

28 Jun 2019

The past couple of months have been pretty crazy for me. I’ve successfully completed my last courses at university and only need to present my thesis and then I’m officially done with my Bachelor. At the same time I’ve been working over 20 hours a week at my job. Safe to say I am tired and ready for my university time to be over. But through these past months I’ve learned a lot about myself and hope to share some of the lessons I learned about dealing with stress.

Recognise what is causing the stress

I found that in this whole period I had many ups and downs, but the most stressful moments were when I had to send emails to people. Especially if it was concerning stuff where I needed their opinion on something I had made. Just the thought of sending that email would send me into an evil circle of self-doubt and procrastination. However, I realized that it was the emails that caused me so much stress and anxiety, so I decided to send them off as quickly as possible. Now I’ve realized it’s not so scary as my mind made it out to be. Getting out of the way quickly gives my brain less time to create all sorts of stressful scenarios that are not a reflection of reality.

Therefore, I found that one of the first steps to dealing with stress is figuring out exactly what made me feel stressed. Addressing that as soon as possible then means less time to stress over it. Then you can always dive deeper and try to identify the underlying cause for that thing causing you stress. In my case it’s because I hate letting people down and want to live up to these sky high standards I set for myself. Which leads me to the next point.

There is no such thing as perfect

I don’t know about you, but I always conjuring this unrealistic image of how this project I’m working on is going to be ground breaking or a smashing success. For some weird reason I always end up falling short or it doesn’t turn out exactly how I imagined it in my head. The schedule I had made was incorrect by the second week of the project and by the forth week it wasn’t even the same project I set out to work on in the beginning. Which in my case meant STRESS, because I had lost control and I was dependent on other people to get back to me. Which of course they didn’t in the time I had set aside for it, since they understandably have jobs and other work tasks that have higher priority.

Realising this was difficult for me, since I am a tiny bit of a control freak. But it was a good lesson in going with the flow. Some things are out of your control and trying to control them will do nothing good for your sanity. So try not to create a detailed plan from the beginning, there will inveitably be things you cannot plan for and if your plan is not flexible enough to deal with that, you might end up stressing for no good reason.

Another stressful aspect of being a perfectionist is the terrible fear of being wrong. What if you didn’t do something correctly or one of the facts were wrong. People will laugh or think you’re stupid. It’s pretty much the end of the world right? Funnily enough, that has never been the case, but somehow my mind seems to think that is what will happen every time. I’ve come to the conclusion that it takes time and practice to get the better of this one, but it really does help. So throw yourself out there even though it makes the stress worse beforehand. You will be less stressed next time you put yourself out there and you realize messing up does not stop the world spinning. Time will continue to go by and most likely people won’t care anyway.

It’s okay to lean on other people

I feel like there’s this whole suffering in silence and doing everything by yourself thing going around. Or maybe it’s a by product of the hustle culture or maybe it’s just me. But complaining to people is okay, you don’t have to pretend to have it all figured out all the time. Especially when you don’t have it all figured out, ask for help. Be it from family, a teacher or co-worker. It’s okay to not know how to do something or be a bit lost, it’s not okay however, to spend weeks procrastinating on a task because you don’t know where you’re going. So reach out and let people help you back on track, chances are they will respect you more for it than if you suffered in silence.

Take care of yoself

You just need to take care of yourself. If this thing is stressing you out so much, maybe you should take a break if you can. Or try making a change, because the current state of affairs is clearly not serving you. This probably means different things for different people, but for me it meant doing all my work in my office. No work allowed when I was home. Being home meant relaxing and refuelling. I did by not completely accomplish this, but I tried to stick to my self-imposed rule. Realising that you are only human and can only do so much before burning out is a big step towards dealing with stress.

Then of course there is the usual advice about eating healthy(ish) and exercising. While I do think it’s important, especially eating right, sometimes having that added pressure just adds to the stress unecessarily. Listen your body, it will tell you what it needs.

Lastly, realize that this is just a period of your life and you will invetiably have more, so try to deal with it the best you can.

Thank you for reading and I hope you found this article helpful!