Stress will destroy you if you let it

Stress can impair your mental state, making it hard for you to function and be your best self.

A month ago, you were probably setting yourself up for an exciting first day back at school. You probably thought, “Oh man, I’ve got this semester in the bag. Piece of cake. Sixteen credits? No problem.” 

Now, you may be sitting at home dreading school tomorrow, stressed beyond belief and watching your classes compete in an epic race to the lowest grade.

You’re stressed; it happens to everyone. While I don’t think it’s healthy to just whimsically ignore stress, I do think it’s critical to take time out of your day to fight back. It’s important to have your “me time.”

Stress is a silent killer. It plants itself in the back of your mind and transforms from thoughts on an upcoming assignment to “I’m just going to drop all my classes and try my luck in the streets.” 

The negative health effects of stress are well-documented, with stress being linked to weight gain, headaches, fatigue and depression. Even heart disease has been linked to stress.

However, stress doesn’t have to get the better of you. There are numerous activities you can do to mitigate all the worst parts of stress. I take 20 to 30 minutes of my day to sit on my patio with the "New York Times" crossword puzzle to battle my stress. There’s something about relaxing with some music, coffee and just letting my mind work on a puzzle that resets my internal barometer.

Music, to me, seems to be a big part in getting my mind ready to relax. Below I’ve included a co-operative Spotify playlist that you can add to at your own discretion. I’ve set it up with some songs that are staples of my relaxation playlists, but I can relax to just about anything, so there is a healthy mix of genres. The username is ASU_Relaxtion_Playlist, and the password is takeaminute

When everything seems to be spiraling down around me, music helps to soothe my mind and focus. Humans have been creating music for thousands of years, and the benefit it provides to a person’s psyche is a well-researched phenomenon. Music has even been found to improve the moods and disposition of adult cancer patients.

Noor Aboud, computer engineering junior, thinks it's important to take time out of a busy schedule to relax. 

"I watch Netflix or hang out with a few friends," Aboud said, "It keeps my mind off the pressures." 

Aboud is seeking a challenging degree, but still says she tries to take around two hours out of every day to relax. "Whenever there's time" to relax, Aboud said, she takes the time.

I know that on days I can relax, I am a much better human being. For example, my Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings are usually panicked fits of rage. I’ll begin by jumping out of bed late, throwing on some sort of clothing, and then driving to school on a sea of expletives wondering why I let my friend talk me into “one drink” the night before my 8:30 a.m. class.

I live for Tuesday and Thursday mornings. On those days I don’t have class until 10:30 a.m., giving me plenty of time to wake up, grab that crossword and start my day at my own pace. Sometimes those mornings are the most serene parts of my week.

I’m gradually learning to make time for myself in my life, and it’s become an invaluable skill. When you're stressed, there’s really only two things you can do:

1. Get mad that you’re stressed, and jump into your next task because you have “a schedule," all the while not giving it your best effort because your mind is in a million different places.

2. Realize your stressed, and reset. Take a walk, do some push-ups or whatever it is you do to take a moment. Then, get started on your next task refreshed and ready to go.

So when you hit that point this semester where you feel stuck, isolated or just when you start feeling like you need to blow off some steam, remember to make some time for you. Turn on some tunes, grab the crossword and just relax.


Reach the columnist at cjwood3@asu.edu or follow @chriswood_311 on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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