by Ein Huie
You know it’s true. You don’t want to admit it openly so you hide behind a fake smile and your third mug of morning coffee. You fall asleep two hours past your “bedtime” just to wake up an extra hour early to keep studying for that chemistry exam or write that eight-page theology paper. On top of your classes you have your on/off-campus job that takes around between ten to twenty hours out of your week. You have your intramural sports team that plays games twice a week. You have your clubs that you are involved in on the side that send you emails weekly wondering where you are.
In looking at the events I just listed, what is missing? Your week is already jam packed and yet you haven’t given yourself time to see your friends across campus or off-campus. You haven’t accounted for your “much-needed” Atilanos’ burrito or Taco Bell run. You haven’t added in your time at the gym or your weekly jogs or walks through the Back 40. What about your weekend adventures around Spokane to Green Bluff or Manito Park to get a breath of fresh air? And yet, even after all these time commitments are scrambled together in your just-too-small day planner, you can still have the feeling that you are not doing enough or fully living the college experience.
This is because many of us chase after the badge of honor called Anxiety. When you are talking about your schedule, it almost seems like a competition to fight for the busiest schedule. You say things like “I just have so much that I have to do this week…” or “I had to miss lunch again because I had to go to chapel today…” or “I wish I could go to Scarywood this weekend, but I have more homework and En Christo instead…”. Although you may enjoy some of your various commitments week by week, it doesn’t make sense to keep chasing more activities.
Stress is not a finish line and there is no reward for achieving the highest level of stress. So many of us can fall prey to the trap of out-stressing the other. As college students, it is one of our jobs to learn to balance our schoolwork, athletics, jobs and our social life. After we think we have a grip on all four of those commitments, we begin to commit to one event after another until we are so deep that we struggle to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Many of us retreat to solitude and attempt to tackle the monster of extreme stress we once saw as a shiny gold medal at the end of the race.
Now I understand that many people are clinically diagnosed with stress and/or anxiety disorders, but this is a message for those of us who are creating the stress for ourselves. It is not necessary and if you feel as if you are over your head then it may be time to start saying no to things. Being a “yes-man” is fun in the right time and place, but exponentially raising your stress levels is not something that anyone needs in their lives if it can be stopped.
You can prevent stress in your own life. See a counselor at our on-campus counseling center. Talk to your parents or closest friends about how you are actually doing. Learn to say no to some of your extracurricular commitments and take time for you. Self-care is an easy word to throw around, but let’s live into it and seek out the best for ourselves and each other so that we can go to bed at the right time, spend less on coffee and enjoy the day that God created for us with just enough on our plate to keep us moving forward together.
Contact Ein Huie at firstname.lastname@example.org