Stepping Back from Stress
Besides the encouragement I’ve received over the past few days, I have also received some useful advice from women who have navigated the challenging (frightening, yet exciting!) situation of being on the cusp of college graduation and preparing for “real” life.
What advice have they given me?
“You’ve worked so hard over the past four years. Just enjoy it!”
“Begin today. Declare out loud to the universe that you are willing to let go of struggle and eager to learn through joy.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach
“Stop living life for what’s around the corner and start enjoying the walk down the street.” – Grant L. Miller (Full disclosure: This one was from the label of my Honest Tea bottle, but I loved it. And they call it “Honest” Tea for a reason, right?)
“It’s great what Caroline has done in terms of organizing her commitments based on what is in her best interest at a given time of her life. It would probably be useful for you to do a bit of what Caroline is doing…”
The past four years, I have thrived on stress:
“Six classes a semester? Tutoring elementary school children for six hours per week plus preparation time? A twenty-plus hours per week internship on Capitol Hill? Sign me up! And, excuse me, but do you have anything else I could take on?”
I am proud of all that I’ve managed to accomplish, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve missed out on plenty of fun and the stress has taken a toll on my mood and health at times. But I would not take back each and every one of those experiences for anything. As much as I’ve learned in the classroom during my time at Georgetown, I am still learning a far more valuable lesson in balance. As I prepare to leave college, the real challenge will lie in putting what I have learned into practice for the rest of my life.
After talking with these women, I came across Maura Rhodes’ article in Women’s Health entitled, “Do You Stress Yourself Out?” I can give no other honest answer to that question besides a resounding “Yes!”
“According to the American Psychological Association, more than half of all women say they’re ‘highly stressed,’ an increase of 25 percent from just four years ago. But very few do anything to chill out. In fact, many seem to be saying ‘bring it on!’ because somewhere along the line being stretched to the limit turned into a badge of honor.”
Caroline’s decision really got me thinking about my own choices. If I do not practice the same balance and self-kindness that I advocate here, I am guilty of hypocrisy. And no one likes hypocrisy. So I’m going to follow the lead of my younger, more carefree self: My alliterative nickname on the soccer field when I was younger was “Happy Hannah,” not “Hypocrite Hannah”!
What example of balance am I if I turn this blog into a source of stress? So far, I have had the lofty goal of posting every weekday. Some weeks, I have posted even more frequently. But in the spirit of balance and the wise advice of my female role models (and Women’s Health!), I am going to scale back the posting frequency to every other day in light of Caroline’s departure. If I find more contributors, I may be able to up the frequency of posts, but Superwoman I am not. I am fortunate enough to have many celebratory events to enjoy and even more friends to relish the last hours of my time with. (I will not scale back completely, though, because I truly enjoy working on fresh ink and I have learned that I feel happiest when I strike a balance between productivity and relaxation, so stay tuned for more posts!)
I present to you this challenge: If you are someone like me who thrives on stress, say “no” to a request for your time, or even schedule an hour or so of your day to do something “unproductive,” but enjoyable. I’ll be right there alongside you challenging my perfectionist self! If I deserve to enjoy this one life that I have, you do too.
Please share what you’ve done for yourself! Perhaps your favorite relaxing activity will help another woman feel as if it is okay to take time for herself or give her more activities to try.
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