I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who has a lot of stuff going on. Normally, I’m pretty good at compartmentalizing school from my personal life, work from my non-work commitments, etc. Well, yesterday was a shitstorm explosion of emotions that started with a tiff with my sister over something inordinately stupid. That then snowballed into an insane fight with my boyfriend. Long story short, I should’ve taken more time to recognize I was getting stressed out and dealt with it before taking it out on my loved ones.
Avoiding ‘expression explosions,’ as I’ve so aptly dubbed them after yesterday, can be tricky. For me, they come on quickly but can take quite a bit of time to diffuse. So how do you avoid them, or kick them in the butt before insults are said, voices are lost, and feelings are hurt? For me, I recognize that the only way to avoid falling apart is to take time to take care of myself first.
So-what’s stressing me? School. I just started a new class for my MBA program, and without any sugar-coating, it’s probably one of the most difficult classes I’ve ever taken. The expectations are insanely high, the materials are dense, and the assignments are unnecessarily complicated (e.g. we had to write a team contract for the people we’re working with and come up with rules about what happens if we have to kick someone out of our group. Like, come on! It’s not like we could actually do that, because that would mean that person automatically fails the course…which hardly happens in graduate courses to begin with. Nonetheless, my team and I had to spend an hour coming up with these bullshit “rules”).
School is probably one of my biggest stressors. I’ve always been a high-achiever, but in the year I took out from law school, I made this startling realization that I might have to settle for less than an “A” in some classes because overworking my body to perform higher would come at a cost I wasn’t prepared to make with respect to my health. Things that would trigger this would be working late (aka pulling all-nighters), cutting out exercising (to study more), cutting out socializing with family and friends (to study more)…the list goes on and on.
My point is, once I realized that I couldn’t rush my symptoms and the only other place I could “cut” my time was doing things that made me happy, I came to conclusion school was important, but it couldn’t be everything. If it was, sure, I could get those high grades, my body would be shit (well, shittier than it is now, which I know is possible because that’s what made me leave school in the first place) and I’d be more unhappy than I am now (because I’d be cutting out everything else in my life but school).
SO, school is a stressor. Luckily, this is the first summer in three years that I’m not taking one or two law school summer classes and working at a law firm. It’s been nice to have more flexibility with my schedule to check in with my doctors more often and to just spend time with my family, friends, and lil service dog.
Other stressors include, but certainly aren’t limited to: being sick 80% of the time (this is huge from being sick 110% of the time, this time last summer), house remodel details (I take back if I’ve ever said designing a house from scratch is fun…if I never have to figure out how many light sockets I want in a room, I’ll be thrilled), service dog training details (it’s a never ending process because my symptoms constantly change, so that means my dog’s training and reactions do as well), not to mention all of the little stressors like interactions with (likely) future in-laws, my own relatives, etc.
I’ve realized that there’s no fool-proof method to relieving stress. If I have time, I like to relax on an acupressure mat (thank you, Amazon). Essential oils are relaxing, especially when using a diffuser, because it’s this semi-frequent gush of scent to focus on instead of my own worries. I love drinking tea…and drinking alcohol when you’re stressed out usually isn’t a good call (at least from my own experience). I try to avoid food when I’m stressed because more often than not that’ll result in me over-eating and then getting really sick (Sorry, chocolate covered pita chips from Costco. I still like you in small doses). One other thing that helps me relieve my stress is to write it down. I have quite a few blog post drafts that’ve never quite made it “live,” simply because they’re just a bunch of rants (worse than this, if you can believe it). For me, just getting the words out is like purge all the bad joo-joo and then I can go on with my day (or night) a little more stress-free.
So that’s my Sunday reflection. I should also probably mention that a huge stressor for me is commuting back and forth between my own place and my boyfriend’s. I feel like there’s never enough time spent at either place, so hopefully that’s a short-term bother that’ll solve itself once we’re no longer driving back and forth so far to see each other.
On that note, I’m off to go make some tea, turn on some soft jazz, and finally get to sorting out the hoards of stuff that’ve piled up at my place.
If you’ve got other stress relievers, leave them in the comments!
Spoonie Adventures in Books, Beauty, & Bullshit
I'm a twenty-something year old recent law and business school grad living with a chronic health condition. Follow along on my shenanigans.