Stressed about school? Pull up a chair, my friend. I have been stressed about everything, living in survival mode and am slowly finding a way out and through the stress and whirlwind of activity.
Here’s the short synopsis of the past six months: I lost two key teammates at my day-job the same week I was moved to a new manager and we received an overhaul of our workflow. On the home front, we are processing the loss of a family member while also selling our farm, moving, and building a new house. Honestly, my chest is getting tight again saying this out loud. Oh, and let’s not forget, we need to check out schools for my daughter since we are moving to a different county.
The number of decisions and errands are overwhelming.
This post has been on my mind a lot lately because my experience is not unique and it’s likely you share a similar situation with a lot
You want to do well in school. It is important to you. If it wasn’t important, you wouldn’t be stressed about school.
Sometimes the ocean of stress and anxiety crashes over us and makes it hard to come up for air. It is a constant barrage of crap to do and feels exhausting to survive on a daily basis. I am living it right with you, my friend.
The good news is we are going to be OK.
Going into an intentional survival mode has made it possible to keep up with what most needs my attention and lower my stress levels.
Sounds good, right?
Managing stress is never an easy or quick fix. Focus on adjusting one small thing at a time and you can not only survive but make it through to the other side where you can flourish!
Identify What Needs Your Focus Most
You cannot do everything perfectly.
It pains me to admit this
If you share my perfectionist tendencies, join me as we remind ourselves we are doing our best and cannot do it all. Seriously. Say it out loud to yourself. You are doing your best.
Now, let’s figure out what we can and should be doing.
Step 1: Identify your values
What is most important to you right now?
Think big-picture and jot down five or fewer values which are most important for you right now. Not sure where to start, check out this list.
Don’t worry about them being perfect. Go with what feels right today. Our values shift slightly and may look different in six months than they do today. We need something to help be intentional and triage the stress. Here is my list:
Give yourself a high-five and let’s keep going.
Step 2: What do you need to do?
Make a list of everything you need to be doing right now. The goal is not to work yourself into a panic. We’re not committing to doing any of these things right now, let’s take a realistic look at what you find hanging over you today. Grab a warm drink, settle into a cozy chair, and start writing. You may even want to set a timer for five minutes to give yourself a clear ending to this short exercise.
My list looks something like this:
- This happy website
- write new articles
- create new, fun images for Pinterest
- join in Facebook discussions
- answer emails
- answer emails…so many emails…
- call students for scheduled appointments
- call and outreach to new students
- plan and create new supporting materials
- read a book for professional development
- say hello to my coworkers (when you work virtually, it’s easy to forget you don’t exist in isolation)
- write new weekly content
- write weekly emails for subscribers
- write posts to Facebook page and interact with group members
- post content to Pinterest
- plan future content and promotions
- create new stuff (SOOOOO many ideas)
- design websites for new clients
- manage existing websites for clients
- manage web hosting for clients
- meal plan and shop for groceries
- cook….all the time
- clean…all the time
- laundry…all the time
- help a toddler…all the time
- find and schedule movers
- pick out appliances, flooring, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, etc. for our new house
- visit 2 schools and send in applications
- sort through every closet and donate what we do not need
- pack everything we are keeping
- list several pieces of furniture for sale
Step 3: Align both lists
This is the hard part because we need to prioritize. And for recovering perfectionists, it is hard to decide not to do something.
This is why we’re stressed in the first place.
We believe we have to do all of these things right now. Frankly, I could do them. I could push myself and do everything on this list.
I value balance and simplicity, which means I have to stop pushing. And so, it is confession time.
This is the first new piece written on this website in over five months. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit this to you because this website is important to me. You are important to me.
Despite its significance, I was not willing to stress about being creative. Creativity has been near impossible, but I was not prepared to abandon my community of students completely. I made a specific list of things I was committed to continuing and a list of things I was not willing to do right now. In the future, I plan to write regularly again. I have so many ideas to share with you and strategies to offer. Stay tuned!
You, my dear friend, need to visit your list of to-dos with a critical eye. I’ll offer you a freeing thought: all of this is optional. Yes, there are consequences to skipping some things, but every single thing is optional.
As you look at your list of what is important to you, be realistic, honest, and intentional about what you are willing to not do right now. It should be a conscious decision.
This is an intentional survival mode. It means choosing what to presently commit our time to and deciding what we can’t do right now. You want to stop being stressed about school, which means making it a priority and cutting back somewhere else.
We’ll get back to some of those things in a few weeks or months. Promise.
Intentionally choosing to place some of these things aside for the moment is one of the most important steps you can take. Having fewer things do to is paramount, but may not relieve the stress in our bodies and minds. We have to become aware of the stories of our inner dialogue.
What Story Are You Telling?
Each of us has a set of circumstances in our lives. These are things you can document and prove in a court of law. Things like…my farm
No one can argue these things exist. They are circumstances we have to take action on.
Then we have our own story about what each circumstance means. And these stories feel like facts. These stories also determine how we feel about what needs to get done.
I’ve had a lot of circumstances going on and what I made them all mean is stress was necessary and there was no time to do anything else. Nose to the grindstone, as they say. Because of my own story, I felt exhausted, frantic, and hopeless. These feelings and my inner dialogue about everything felt true. SOO True. Arguments would have ensued if someone suggested otherwise. 😉 I could sense my body wearing out from trying to make everything happen while I told myself to bear the stress because I had to. I didn’t have time to do anything else.
You may have a similar story.
In fact, I would bet you have your own version of this story
I don’t have time to study.
It is one of the most insidious stories we tell ourselves.
But is it true?
A couple of months back there was a whisper of an idea this might not be the truth. I was thinking about how there was no time to cook healthy meals (thus, the junk-food jamboree we were partaking in) and then
Do I really NOT have the time to cook?
Will there ever be a better time than right now to prioritize my health?
Let’s ask it again a bit differently…
Do you really NOT have the time to study?
Will there ever be a better time than right now to prioritize your future?
My answer and I hope yours, is no. Of course, there is no better time than now, and I can make time for anything important to me. The relief from letting go of the false notion was amazing. It was just a story and I could create a different story. I felt lighter, energized, and motivated immediately. I also sat down and made a plan for dinner…and turns out it really didn’t take long at all.
It doesn’t mean there were
Take Care of Your Body When Stressed About School
Finally, how do you take care of your body while you finish your assignments and manage being stressed about school? I am not a medical professional but have found a few strategies helpful to relieve some of the physical side-effects of stress.
Best news? Most of these you can do in under 5 minutes
- Take a few slow and steady breaths. Try to inhale as much air as possible while you count slowly up to four. Hold your breath for 8 seconds. Finally, exhale slowly and try to extend it to a count of ten. It is amazing how this can help your entire body calm down. It’s like a nervous system reset.
- Relax your face and shoulders. Spend 60-seconds and intentionally relax your muscles. Start with your shoulders and work up through the neck, jaw, cheeks, eyes, and forehead.
- Eat foods to nourish yourself. My instinct when under stress is to eat junk food because I want to feel good quickly and french fries seem like the answer to every problem. Who’s with me? 😸Keep a long-term perspective and remember your body needs proper nutrition to sustain you. Energy in, energy out. Junk in, junk out. My goal
isto include at least 2 servings of vegetables with every meal (even breakfast) and ditch the guilt about occasional treats. Balance, right?
- Try an adaptogen. You may have heard this buzzword recently, and adaptogens are simply herbs to support your adrenal system, which is where your body processes stress. I am using this Ashwagandha blend and can see a big improvement in my ability to calm down and relax when combined with the previous strategies. There are many other herbs to support your adrenals. This adrenal health blend contains many different herbs.
You likely will need to manage major stress while still keeping up with school work, but you don’t have to be stressed about school. The stress is optional. It isn’t always an easy process, but by prioritizing, cutting back where we can, and adjusting the inner story we tell ourselves it can be a relatively pain-free experience. And when all else fails, remember, change is guaranteed and this won’t last forever.
How are you maintaining balance?