Are You Stressed as You Think?

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September 2, 2013

6:22 PM

Stress is a part of our life at the College of William and Mary. We knew what we were getting into — part of the reason I was drawn to this school was the fact that students here are serious about their academics. But on top of the workload, somehow I managed to get involved in so many clubs that my inbox is a constant flood of reminder emails. Add in what’s left of a social life, and my days are scheduled down to the minute with meetings, office hours and dinner dates. By the end of the day, my bed has never looked so good.

Clearly, the College is stressful. But are we really as stressed as we think we are?

A few weekends ago, I was on the phone with my parents. My dad asked what was in store for the upcoming week, to which I replied, “Ugh, this is going to be such a stressful week.” But when he asked me to elaborate, I couldn’t. My week ahead was the same as any normal week; I had a few minor assignments, my normal weekly meetings and class as usual. I had a midterm on the horizon, but that wasn’t for another week and a half, and I was comfortable with the material. The chances of me losing sleep in Earl Gregg Swem Library were extremely unlikely. So why did I inherently anticipate this week was going to be stressful?

As College students, we are constantly running on stress. A little stress is a good thing — it keeps us on our toes and prepares us to be successful long after graduation. But when we let stress creep into every corner of our lives, there might be something wrong.

I constantly make to-do lists throughout the day. I check my email more often than I should. I worry about assignments weeks in advance. Whenever I take a nap or watch a show, I feel guilty for not working. And I know I’m not alone — I have friends that are even worse than I am. It seems that at the College, if you’re not constantly stressed, you’re doing it wrong.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

I think we need to make a collective effort to recognize when we’re truly stressed as opposed to just busy. By not differentiating between the two, we’re setting ourselves up to be in a constant state of anxiety, which affects our ability to work efficiently and enjoy our time with friends. We’re always busy, but that doesn’t mean we always have to be stressed.

So next time I’m complaining to a friend about my workload, I’m going to stop and ask myself, “What makes this week worse than any other week?” If there is no good reason to justify rants about my work and commitments, I need to just stop. Stop complaining and stop stressing. I’ll be happier, healthier and more efficient for it.

Instead, I’ll save all my stressing for finals. Lord knows I’ll need it then.

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