The Glamorization of Stress + Ways to Change It

If you're currently in college, you know that stress is everywhere. It's in the classroom. It's in the library. It's in Starbucks. It's behind the eyes of every college student everywhere. We are constantly pulling all-nighters and surviving off of the cup of coffee we had that morning. We are posting a picture of our laptops and textbooks with the caption "lol stayed up all night studying RIP me" on our Snapchat stories and Twitter. We are staying up late and waking up early. We are constantly worrying about grades and tests and jobs and paying rent. We are having to work two jobs to even afford rent. We are eating fast food all the time, not understanding what it's doing to our bodies. We are typical college students.

While all of this seems funny in theory, it's really, really not. Coming into college, we thought these all-nighters at the library, 5 cups of coffee a day, and having sleep for dinner were normal. It's not. This level of stress we're all experiencing is abnormal and incredibly dangerous. Stress is slowly killing college students, and the thing that makes all of this even scarier is that it's normalized and glamorized. We think it's "cool" and "normal" to spend all night studying for days on end and not get a wink of sleep. That's not our fault, though. That's college culture. It's what we've been told and shown since before our first day of freshman year. And it's killing us. 

The biggest problem with the glamorization of stress is that it's nearly impossible to ignore and our current routines are incredibly difficult to reverse. While we'd love to start working out, eating well, and taking care of ourselves, it's just not talked about enough. So here I am, talking about it.

Stress is killing us, and it's time to really do something about it. Stress is real, dangerous, and not to be dramatic or anything, but it can kill us. So it's time to reverse the trends and start taking care of ourselves (P.S this applies to everyone, not just college students). Here are some ways to begin taking care of yourself in this stress-crazed world.

  1. Try to cut back on caffeine. I know, coffee is delicious and basically life juice. But it's also unhealthy in high amounts. Try to stick with one cup a day to prevent the shakes and racing thoughts.
  2. Eat breakfast. I'm dead serious. Eat. Breakfast. For me, if I don't eat breakfast, I don't feel hungry all day and before I know it I haven't eaten at all. Starting the morning off with even a bowl of eggs or toast or something is better than nothing. It'll improve your focus and once you've been doing it for a while, it'll become a habit. I'm completely serious about this one.
  3. Pack a lunch. If your schedule is busy and you know for a fact you're not going to have time to eat every day, pack a lunch. Yeah, I'm taking you back to high school. Make a sandwich and throw a vegetable and some chips in there and you're good to go. This way, you at least have one meal that's prepared and decently healthy (ALSO DRINK WATER but y'all already know that).
  4. Make time for a healthy habit. Whether it's meditation, yoga, exercise, or even reading, make time for something that's going to either clear your head or keep you active. This is really hard, but I've found that even getting up 30 minutes earlier or going to bed 30 minutes later and using that time for one of these is incredibly helpful.
  5. On that note, make time for stuff you love. Maybe you hate meditation, yoga, and reading (shudder). That's fine. Use your extra 30 minutes to do something that you love. If you can't think of anything, try and find a new hobby. Play an instrument, write short stories, make collages or Pinterest boards of things that inspire you. Anything. Just make sure it's something you enjoy and not something that's being forced upon you. If you don't want to meditate or do yoga or exercise, that's fine. I don't want to force that upon you. It's what works for me, but I completely understand that it may not work for everyone else. 
  6. SLEEP. Okay, I could talk for hours about what lack of sleep does to you. It's SO DANGEROUS, y'all. I know this from personal experience. Whatever you do, do not make a habit of getting less than 7 hours of sleep a night. It can kill you. Like actually. I'm talking physically and mentally. Sleep deprivation is a primary factor in many accidents. It can also hurt your cognitive function, including concentration and the ability to reason logically. Chronic sleep loss can put you at risk for several serious health conditions, including heart attacks. Lack of sleep also contributes to depression and anxiety and can worsen the symptoms. That's a real thing, guys. Please just trust me on this. In addition to all of this, lack of sleep can also destroy your skin, make you susceptible to forget things easily, impairs judgment, and can eventually lead to death. In case you're wondering, yes, I'm trying to scare you. And none of this is overexaggerated. Please, just PLEASE, get sleep. If you've been working on a paper for 5 hours, go to sleep and wake up later the next morning. If you can't wake up any later, take a short nap the next day. Set a time window for sleep every day. Mine is 11:30 to 7:30. This is the most important thing you can do for yourself, guys. A lot of things can hurt your health, but I firmly believe that lack of sleep is the number one thing hurting us students. Sleep. Please. SLEEP.
  7. Tell your friends. Tell them to take care of themselves. Tell them that this culture of stress is toxic and we must do what we can to reverse it for future college students. Remind them to eat and drink water and sleep. Remind them to make time for things they love. Remind them that school is hard and if we don't take care of ourselves, we'll slowly fall apart. Nothing is worth that. 
That's all I got for now. Please remember that this intense level of stress we all experience is not normal and we must remember to take care of ourselves. Don't forget to love yourself, either.

Love, 
Hannah

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