September 20, 2022

SENZON | Overcoming Stress

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With prelim exams right around the corner, the average Cornell student will let you know of their stress.

I’m no stranger to the feeling of stress and anxiety, but I like to remind myself that at times giving in to these feelings will only inhibit my progress. These past few weeks have been challenging to say the least — but I’ve been helping myself understand that I must nurture myself first before pursuing anything greater. As my workload progressively gets larger I find myself revisiting this feeling of stress and it can become burdening at times. 

Before I get into some ways you can try to remove or lessen stress as a dominating factor in your life, I’m going to preface that not all stress is bad stress. There is such a thing as healthy stress. Healthy stress keeps you aware of responsibilities and tasks that you must get done, or you’ll face negative consequences. Though this type of stress is beneficial to productivity, it can easily evolve into unhealthy stress that dominates your life. It’s your job to make sure this doesn’t happen.

Though I haven’t mastered the art of sublimating unhealthy stress and replacing it with a tangible list of actionables to take initiative and get things done, I’d like to share some knowledge on things you can do to find yourself back in a calm state of mind. 

The first way to mitigate unhealthy stress would be to implement passion into your daily life. Something I’ve been feeling the absence of recently is the ability to pursue passions that aren’t built around academics. To offer more insight, I’ve spent most of my life creating art. When this passion first surfaced in my life, things started to feel like they were making sense. The process of observing, choosing a color palette, layering and creating a piece with intricate details offered me a sense of fulfillment beyond academics. Since college started, I’ve felt the absence of this within my life. I urge you to make room in your life to find a passion, or maybe revisit one that you might’ve lost sight of.

This next one may sound obvious — listen to music. I know this is a given for most people, especially when stressed. But take this as a reminder to listen to your favorite song, or create a playlist of relaxing music to get you out of a negative mental space. I know from personal experience that good music never goes wrong when I’m stressed! 

Another thing you can do to remove unhealthy stress from your life goes hand-in-hand with listening to music. Get on your feet and exercise. Something I’ve learned this past year is to never underestimate the power of a workout to remove negative thoughts and mindsets from my life. To maximize a workout, listen to upbeat music that will help you get that adrenaline rush and keep you energized. You may even want to work out with a friend — this is one of the many ways to strengthen those foundational relationships within your life. Going on a run with a friend may just be the antidote to your stress-dominated life. Healthy relationships can act as a support system in your life, keeping you afloat when those unexpected detours present themselves. 

This next stress reliever would be to focus on those people that are always there for you. These are the people that are going to give the best advice on how to overcome a shortcoming. Having a foundation of good relationships in your life will help reduce stress tremendously  — it’s nice to know that you’re supported. Make time for the friends that have always been there to help guide you through struggle, and for your family who has shown you the rope. 

My last piece of advice would be to make time for walks. You’d be surprised how therapeutic the simple act of going on a walk can be for the mind. While going on walks you may even be able to practice journaling and reflecting on your mental state. Be honest with yourself. Sometimes the things that stress us out the most are things we don’t like to admit — being honest with yourself can be a driving force in releasing that pressure off your shoulders. 

I’d like to bring these pieces of advice to mitigate unhealthy stress in your life back to building a routine. Routine introduces familiarity, something that can be preventative in unhealthy stress. 

Just remember, keeping focused on your goals and academics doesn’t always mean having to sacrifice peace of mind.

Adam Senzon (he/him) is a freshman at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He can be reached at [email protected] My Two Sen-ts runs every other Tuesday this semester.