Monday, August 6, 2012

Stress and Coping:Cara Chill

Stress and Coping
Cara Chill

As a senior in college, I often refer to my life as a balancing act.  It is up to me to maintain good grades while applying to graduate programs, doing research, volunteering, and interning.  As much as I love staying busy, it sometimes becomes overwhelmingly stressful.  I am sure most individuals also have this contradicting life style of trying to keep busy without becoming overloaded.  Personally, I feel stress in small increments can be beneficial, it gives us a reason to get out of bed our start our day.  However, chronic stress can be detrimental to our well-being and may cause physical, emotional, and psychological harm. 
There have been many times in my life where I have felt unsure on how to cope with stress and after years of experimenting, I found working out.  Working out had always been something I incorporated into my life but I never looked at it as a way to manage my stress.  I usually looked at working out as a way to be healthy and keep myself fit but today, it is a simple way for me to deal with stress.  Exercising not only gives me time to think about things in my life, it also ironically, provides a momentary escape from reality and allows me to work on the parts of myself that need some TLC. For me, the best feeling I could give myself is a nice workout followed by a shower and a good nights’ sleep.  Whenever I am stressed and do my routine of working out and getting enough sleep, I wake up feeling refreshed and prepared to start my day. Exercising is also beneficial because it releases endorphins which make you feel good that may also help when dealing with stress. 
            I understand that exercising may require time and planning which not everyone can dedicate to.  Also, some people would rather cope with their stress in a different way other than by working out. In that case, there are many other things that have been found to help decrease stress and some take little to no time at all!
1.      Laugh- it is so simple and you will have fun doing it.  Laughter reduces tension and improves blood flow to the heart.  So when stressed, spend some time with a friend or rent a funny movie and forget about your worries.
2.      Write/ keep a journal- it is also great to record your thoughts and feelings and writing your troubles down can be soothing and also a great way to release tension and look at the situation from a different perspective.
3.      Spend time with those you love- spending time in a place you feel relaxed with those you love provides you with a sense of comfort gives you a sense of belonging and purpose.
4.      Meditate- when you feel tension take some time and take deep breathes.  This can be calming and bring you solace.
5.      Be thankful- there is always something or someone to be thankful for and sometimes we tend to focus on the negative things in our lives instead of all the wonderful things.  It is always refreshing to remember all the positive things in our lives. 


  1. I really enjoyed reading this entry. I feel like I can relate with working out as a great stress reliever. I find it difficult to use a journal consistently but it's nice for those moments when there is no one else around. I also like to work on art and work on projects with other people, even for something like cleaning dishes.

  2. Managing stress always feels like a balancing act for me as well. I have come to a point in my life where I have learned to nurture and take care of myself. There is always so much to be done in our hectic lives, but in order to stay healthy, we must find a way to engage in self-care consistently. For me, spending time with friends, meditating, curling up with a good book, taking a bath, or going for a walk are ways I find a place of peace.

    Another thing I have learned to do is use the word "NO." I did not know how to do that for a long time. I have come to realize I must take care of myself, and sometimes that means saying "no" to some requests or opportunities. One person can simply not do it all. Since I started making space in my life to take care of myself, I am actually able to show up for people in a more meaningful way. When I said "yes" to everything, I wasn't always fully there for people. I had too much going on to be present.

    Lastly, I have learned to prioritize. This has been a very effective stress management skill for me. I have to realize there is only so many hours in a day, and some tasks are just going to have to wait. When I make myself a "To Do" list, I always rank each item. This puts my mind at ease, and I am able to lie down at night and at least know the "important" items are crossed off my list.

  3. When I was young, I hated working out because I equated it with "gym class" - and not being naturally athletic, gym class was socially painful for me. But when I started experimenting and found types of movement that I truly enjoy, I look forward to working out. I will never look forward to jumping jacks or any team sport that involves a ball - but going for a nice bike ride, walking my dog, doing yoga are things I look forward to.