Drowning & How to Stay Afloat

Hello Beauties, I’ve missed you all so much and I know this blog post is coming to you late and I’m sorry about that. I am entering (well almost done with) my sixth week of my graduate school fellowship!

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About two weeks ago on Tuesday, I became extremely overwhelmed about the upcoming application season, my research project for the fellowship, and all my “adult” responsibilities. I’m not sure why but application season this time has become an extreme source of fear and anxiety. I really want to get into a specific PhD program – like more than anything. And as the time to apply gets closer and closer – I was just feeling so scared. I literally feel like I was drowning in my own created stress.

But I realized that it’s because I am trying to handle too much all at once. I am not superwoman and I don’t know why I try to be either. Its truly baffling. But I came out of that week of stress and figurative drowning knowing a lot more about myself and who I want to be. I realized that as I get older and more advanced in my career that the stress is just going to increase. Also, the way that I am handling the stress now will influence how I handle the future, more intense stress that is bound to show up.

What I need to do is stopping letting these stressors and fears get the best of me. First of all, I refuse to let these stressors and fears cripple or stop me from achieving my goals. Sure, they might cause me to pause for a hot second, but it wont hinder me from getting everything I need to get done, done.

So here are some new ways I am conquering my stress levels especially within the world of academia and I hope that they will help you conquer yours as well.

  1. Get the stress out of your head. This is actually something my mentor suggested here at school. She said, “instead of having all that stress in your head, write it all down. Every little thing that is stressing you out on to the paper. Once its all out of your mind, take a few moments and reflect on the items. Are these things you can change? If they are, change them. If they are tasks, finish them quickly so you won’t have to worry about them any longer.”
  2. Prioritize. One of the main things that helps get my stress when I have a lot to do in check is if I put tasks that need to be done into categories. I normally do three categories: urgent, can wait, postpone. Urgent means the task needs to be done first or within 24 hours. The Can wait category is for things within that week that need to be done, and postpone is for things that can be put off until the following week.
  3. Take breaks. I was told once that for every 55 minutes of work you do, you should take a 10 minute break. I really try to follow this unless I am on a roll in a project. During my breaks, I often go outside to walk my dog or sometimes I’ll watch an episode of my favorite show or just sit there with my eyes closed (just be careful not to fall asleep!). Also with taking breaks, whenever I feel like my stress is bubbling up out of control – I literally stop everything I’m doing and take a few moments just to breathe and relax. This stress is not the end of the world.
  4. Consider the stressors from your past. Thus far, you’ve conquered every stressor and problem thrown your way. You’ve survived every bad day, every bad situation that you thought you would never get out of, every negative interaction – you have conquered them all. I try to always remember that I have overcome a lot of stress and obstacles in the past so this one before me is not going to ruin my record!
  5. Talk it out. Take caution with this tip, but I’ve heard that talking about your stress to someone often helps. However, for me, sometimes when I tell people about my stress I feel like they diminish my problems and that stresses me out more. Find people in your life that you can go to about these stressors and that can help. For example, my grad and faculty mentors at school have been great sounding boards for my stress, but my friends not so much…

I strongly believe that stress is a necessary part of life but that it doesn’t always have to be a negative experience. Sometimes, at least for myself, stress propels me forward into success that I didn’t even imagine before.

You are a strong, stress handling boss and I believe in you! Share below some of your stress handling tips!

Until Next Time,

Tanesha

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