Dealing With Stress

Dear Dee,

I have gray hair! No, really. I am so stressed as everything is coming to a close this semester. More stressed than I have been in a long time and I am at my breaking point. Have you reached yours? If so, what have you done to overcome all the stress?

Sincerely,

SERIOUSLY STRESSED

Dear STRESSED,
If you really want to know, I reached my breaking point about three days ago in my beginner’s Italian class. We were going over homework and then taking a quiz that I studied for the previous night. But because of other homework I had not much sleep from the night before to get me through the day. I had been stressing about money and grades and things going on back home. I was at my breaking point.

My professor asked me to conjugate the verb giocare, which means ‘to play’, in the present tense. I knew how to, and I knew I could take the quiz and pass easily. But at the moment my mind went completely blank. Another classmate answered for me and the class continued.

I am a very emotional person. So if I am stressed out, I do not stay quiet about it, or huddle under the covers and sleep, or something else. I cry. And when I am really stressed, I cry a lot.

That’s when I broke down. Right there. In class. Right before a quiz. My two best friends gave hugs of encouragement because they knew what I was going through.

I was dismissed until I could calm down again and the teacher figured out what was going on from my friends.
Looking in the bathroom mirror, I realized that I just needed to cry, let it all out and maybe I’d feel well enough to continue. I cried until my face was puffy and looked like it had hives. My eyes were red and my contacts wouldn’t stay put. I used all the paper towels drying my face. To put it lightly, it was bad.
My professor came out of the classroom after a few minutes and we talked. Once she understood the problem, she gave me some encouragement. My confidence was boosted, and my shoulders were a little more relaxed. I went to take the quiz.

What you should read from my story are three very important things:
1) My friends
2) Talking with the professor
3) Letting it go (I am not referencing Frozen, no matter how great a movie it is)

The first two points are similar. When you’re stressed, talking about what is making you stressed with your support group (family, friends, significant others) can really help. Whether it’s gaining a new perspective, thinking out loud, needing comfort, or letting someone else know what’s on your mind; it can make a difference.

Talking about the problems with people who can help you solve them is key. I was worried about my grade in Italian because my orals were not my best. However, I realized that talking about my grades with my teacher showed me she really was there to help. I know I knew this before but I’ve never acted on the fact and I was glad that my professor really cared. You do not have to solve every problem on your own; I learned that too. Not only is that mighty stressful, but pointless because it won’t help anyone in the end.

Letting it go is my third and final point. So if you cry when you are stressed (like me), then take a moment to cry, clean up, and then move forward. Sometimes the body needs to do this, because stress is not only a mental and emotional thing, but it takes toll on your body as well. If you need to exercise (like going for a run (definitely not me)), take time to go for an extra session at the gym and let your mind blank. If you need to sleep, sleep. If you need to eat, eat. Taking care of yourself when you’re stressed should be a priority. How else are you to go through the day if you are underfed, stinky, and running on two hours of sleep?

If these tips don’t help you, please ask a trusted adult or even a doctor for more assistance. You need to help yourself be at your best before you can tackle anything thrown at you. You’re not a superhero (sorry to break it to you). But you can be the best you if you learn to control the stress in your life.

Since breaking down on Wednesday, I’ve realized these points slowly. But I am trying to incorporate them into my life. I’ve already made a huge step in completing homework and such, I feel refreshed, and I feel free enough to enjoy my weekend in Florence with API, without the guilt of leaving something undone back in Tuscania.

I learned my lesson about how to handle stress and not to bottle it up. Just talking about it with friends, family, with people who can help really makes a difference. If you have a faith, that’s another pillar to fall back on.

If you are stressed to the breaking point I suggest you talk it out, work it out, stay healthy, and then move forward. Ignoring problems are not going to fix them and you won’t be better for it.

Sincerely,

Dee

Dee Treisch is a student at Grove City College and an official API Student Blogger. Dee is studying abroad with API in Tuscania, Italy.

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