Dealing With Stress

By Lizzie Poulos

As an HB senior, I have had to learn pretty quickly how to deal with stress. I have been through numerous AP classes, the college process, balancing extracurricular activities and community service with excessive homework, all while attempting to have a social life. I was always surprised when I heard someone say that they cried about a test, or that they almost broke down before a sports game. There is nothing wrong with being a little bit stressed about something, but allowing it to have that much control over your emotional state is not healthy. Now, I’m not saying I have the magic equation to handle all of life’s stresses—I don’t think such an objective strategy exists—but I do know how I have managed to handle the excessive stress of a passionate and involved HB student. I have organized my personal strategy into three steps:

1. SLEEP

  • Seriously, you cannot undervalue the importance of a good night’s sleep. In my experience, it is so much better to choose sleep over all-night cram sessions.

2. LET IT GO

  • (cue Frozen soundtrack). This one seems pretty arbitrary to a lot of people, letting go the things you can’t change, but the idea of it is much easier than actually putting it into practice. Did badly on a test? Let it go. Didn’t win that last game? Let it go. Screwed up your solo in the choral concert? Let it go. Stressing about things that you can’t change is a waste of time and a waste of energy. Putting it into practice is hard, but the more you try to let things go the better you will get at it.

3. OM MANI PADME HUM.

  • This is an old Sanskrit saying that Buddhist monks across the world chant when they are meditating. It translates roughly to “jewel in the lotus flower”, a metaphor for finding the important essence of life in all of the craziness that it brings. I believe that this is such a solid philosophy for almost every aspect of life. First, the more obvious spiritual meaning: look for the good things in life, the things that make you happy, and focus on those things. Spend a little time every day doing something you love that doesn’t necessarily strengthen your college apps. Read a book. Doodle. Bake. Watch a movie. Do something that never fails to bring a smile to your face because in the end life is all about happiness. Now, the less obvious application of this can be placed with academic life. Here’s the hard truth: in the end, you will never have time to do everything right. We are assigned hours of homework, a lot of it being busy work, and are expected to do extra curricular activities on top of that. At some point, some things will have to fall by the waist side, and it’s inevitable. So, don’t look at this reality as a curse but rather as an opportunity for you to assess all your responsibilities and see what must be done in depth and what can be done with less effort. Use it as a chance to find the “essence” of yourself as a learner. What do you excel at? What must you work on, spend more time on? Learn to compromise and learn how to fake it till you make it. This is the jewel in the lotus of life. Dwelling on happiness and strength, and working with your weaknesses.

All right, that’s my general battle-plan to approaching life’s challenges. I hope it helps!

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