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Don’t worry, be happy

Kristin Durbin | Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What’s a six-letter word for the one thing that permeates every aspect of a college student’s life, perpetually hangs over your head like the overcast weather in South Bend and refuses to disappear after the trials and tribulations of college life are a thing of the past?
The word itself sends chills down my spine, and yet the concept it represents remains an inevitable, integral part of my daily life as a Notre Dame student. Planning my schedule a month in advance and attempting to write papers earlier than the night before they’re due might temporarily relieve my anxieties, but generalized worry follows me around like that friend nobody likes.
We all know what stress feels like, and we’ve exhausted a wide variety of stress relief remedies: working out, eating chocolate, venting about stress to a friend, wasting our lives on Facebook, laughing about nothing for an extended period of time and embracing the blessing that is the weekend. Unfortunately, nearly all these methods are temporary cures, lingering just long enough to catch a glimpse of what our lives would be like without stress.
Despite the futile attempts I’ve made at simplifying my life, the unyielding stream of tests, papers, activities and events that fill my weeks is oddly comforting, a constant reminder of my (generally) good work ethic and how it got me to where I am.
Throughout high school, I crammed my days with almost every imaginable extracurricular activity, from softball and show choir to band and student government. Miraculously, I managed to succeed academically even though I spent the majority of my time inside the beige brick walls of my high school.
On the bright side, my daunting schedule taught me to manage my time by compartmentalizing my life into chunks of time. I’ve applied this method to my first semester and a half of college, achieving relative success. I have more free time now than I did in high school, but those extra hours sometimes seem to melt into nothing. Still, the overarching feeling of being overwhelmed by future events persists, leading me back to my original dilemma: how can you make stress evaporate into thin air forever?
As of right now, I haven’t found a way to accomplish that lofty goal.
I wouldn’t call myself an expert on stress relief, but I have realized a few things about stress and how to postpone its onset:
Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s easier said than done, but being bitter about that A-minus in psych won’t help you in the long run.
Make time for yourself. Watch a movie, listen to music, read a book or exercise. Just set aside some “me” time once in awhile.
Talk to someone about it. Venting sessions with friends can lighten the load of stress.
Have fun! Go out on weekends, spend time with friends and take advantage of all the opportunities Notre Dame has to offer.
When stress gets you down, just take Gary Go’s advice: “Gotta look myself in the eye, and say it’s gonna be alright.”