So, I have a lot of terrible habits in my life. That should surprise no one. I am a super bad nail biter, I procrastinate a lot, I’m a stress eater, I have a tendency to make impulsive purchases (especially when it comes to buying things for other people), I’m never on time for anything… The list goes on and on. I don’t think it’s even up for debate that I have way more bad habits than I have good habits. Recently, one of my worst habits has gotten even worse.
I’ve written before
about how stressed I get, and about my attempts to cope with stress. Whenever I get stressed, I sort of shut down and withdraw from the outside world. It’s really not the worst response to stress; it sort of has the effect of eliminating distractions and forcing me to focus all of my energy on addressing the cause of the stress.
During finals, I might be stressed for a week or two. Prolonged stress can be mentally and physically taxing. In those situations, I typically try to give myself one free day to do literally anything else so I can give my mind a break. I’ll schedule all of the work that I need to around that one day. On that day, I usually take a long walk, go downtown, work out, and treat myself to some of my favorite food and watch a movie. Anything to distract my mind and that makes me stop putting pressure on myself for a little bit.
Since I started work on my thesis last summer, I’ve reached a new level of stress in my life, and I haven’t been coping with it well at all. I’ve always been able to power through the stress of finals because finals might only last a week or two. With my thesis, I’ve been dealing with constant finals-level stress for six months at this point, and I won’t be done with my thesis for at least another four months.
At some point, I suddenly just stopped letting myself take days off like I used to. Whenever I thought about taking a day off to escape from the stress, I would think about how much work goes into a thesis, and I’d force myself to stay at home and do more work instead. Of course, since I never allowed myself to recover, I’d struggle to focus, the quality of my work would decrease, and I’d get even more stressed. As a result, for the past six months, I essentially lived Rapunzel’s
life. I locked myself away, and I only let myself leave for class or groceries. When I had to go out for special occasions, I was always doing work in my head and writing down ideas in my phone.
This week, I had a moment of clarity and decided that I had to cut myself some slack. I went to the gym twice this week (something that probably hasn’t happened in six months), took a mini-road trip with my cousin, and today, I finally let myself take my long walk again. Suddenly, everything seems a lot more manageable.