5 Ways To Practice Self-Care In A Stressful Time

Today I realized something terrifying. In eight weeks, I will graduate from college.

So from the minute I woke up, I was filled with sudden panic about the huge unknown that’s in front of me. Unfortunately, there’s no way for me to ease the stress by getting the perfect job overnight. Instead, I am going to have to make my final days in school about self-care to combat the anxiety.

I’ll admit that I’ve never been great about self-care. Sometimes it makes me feel selfish, or like I’m wasting valuable time that I could be spending getting work done. But I have also seen its value time and time again when I need to reset and collect myself.

So here’s what I’ll be doing to take care of myself during this stressful season.

  1. Taking walks and spending time outside.

Even thought it’s cold, I always find that just half an hour walking outside can help me settle back into a place of calm. If I start to lose focus, getting some fresh air and moving around is always a good way to recharge.

  1. Do something creative.

When I have restless energy, it helps me to feel like I’ve at least created something with my time spend decompressing. So try journaling, painting or writing a song.

  1. Paint my nails (or even spring for a manicure!)

It’s the simplest luxury, but I always feel more confident when my nails look nice. And sometimes the little bit of pampering we get at a manicure is just the extra care we need.

  1. Spend less time on social media.

I’ve heard that comparison is the thief of joy and, especially in a time of so much change, it can be hard not to compare myself to those who seem to have it all figured out, according to social media. But I need to remember that I am exactly where I need to be and that nobody has all the answers, even if it looks like it on Instagram.

5. Try to stay present.

While it’s important for me to engage in the new phase my life is entering, I also need to remember not to get so caught up in planning that I lose sight of my two months as a student. I should most of all be enjoying the days I have left as a student, not panicking about what I will do when they end.

What do you do for self-care? Let me know in the comments!

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk

I posted last week about embarrassingly forgetting my laptop at home when I went to the Apple store to try and get it fixed, only to find out I had to buy a new one. Long story short, a week later I started getting horrible migraines and eye pain. I even went to see my doctor irrationally worrying I had developed a brain tumor (thanks anxiety). Turns out, the different display on my new laptop was so bad it was seriously straining my eyes. So I’m having to return that one and buy another one. 

With all these tech issues, doing my homework, working on my blog and doing everything else in my life has been much more difficult. So suffice to say, it has been a bit of a stressful week with a lot of reasons to be annoyed and angry. But my advisor noticed a change in me today when I went to talk to her about it.

She told me that I looked surprisingly calm considering that last year, I would have completely freaked out over this mess. And she was completely right. Early 2018 Sara would be having a total prolonged meltdown right now.

But I have grown a lot this year and learned to handle stress so much better than I used to. I don’t know if it was being thrown into a chaotic internship in New York last semester or just finally spending time trying to figure myself out. But a silly saying popping into my head last semester whenever I started to freak out: “Don’t cry over spilled milk, it’s already out of the glass.”

I turned this into a bit of a mantra during my stressful fall semester. When things would get crazy or I would feel like I’d lost control of a situation, I would try to remind myself:

  1. It’s not worth exhausting all your energy worrying about something that is really small in the grand scheme of things (like spilled milk).
  2. And even if something more substantial goes wrong, things are going to happen the way they happen and you can’t get hung up on what you can’t change (it’s already out of the glass).

This is not to say that I’ve overcome all my stress and worry because I certainly haven’t. But I’ve started to learn to try and have a little perspective when things go wrong and try not to freak out about the little things. 

Do you have a mantra that helps you when you’re stressed? Let me know in the comments!

Rediscovering Creativity

When I came to college as a songwriting major, I considered creativity to be one of my biggest and most valuable traits. During that period I wrote almost every day, constantly re-arranged my room and proudly wore bold (and at times cringe-worthy) clothing.

But over the next few years, school began to break that creativity down. My learning differences made classes harder, so I needed to follow the instructions closely to get A’s on my projects. I had to maintain conventional methods of organizing and discussing so that I didn’t stand out in the wrong ways. I needed to tuck away my creativity to read the textbook, regurgitate the information the next day, then forget it. My writing became formulaic; it had to be to fit all the requirements on my papers.

In retrospect, this weakening of my creativity was one of the reasons that I eventually switched out of my songwriting major, which I once loved. Creativity is one of the biggest gifts for those of us with ADD and is part of why I innitially loved writing music so much. But challenging, conventional schooling can damage those of us who think differently into forfeiting that gift.

After I changed majors, I didn’t pick up a guitar for a long time. I focused on journalism, which often let me go into writing with a universal blueprint. But after a year of freelancing, I started to get bored with the formulas.

Today I wrote a song for the first time in a while. I don’t feel any pressure to play my songs for anyone anymore, so it finally felt expressive and cathartic again. The song may be terrible, but I’m learning that with creativity, it’s more about the process than the end result.

At risk of sounding preachy, we were born to create something beautiful. So let go of the rules you’ve been taught and go get started.