Day 2: Adult stress management

I have recently learned a new lesson in adulthood: how to deal with overwhelming stress. I have known a few people who couldn’t handle school, so they go home to their parents. Eventually, each got back on their feet and tried again. As an adult however things are a little different. Rent doesn’t stop. Your job doesn’t stop (unless you have a seasonal job, like in education). And dropping everything to recover might turn a bad situation into a total catastrophe. You’re left with a non-ideal solution: chug along as best you can without going mad. Might be a tall order.

So I found myself suddenly in that kind of situation. It was sink or swim: learn how to deal with it or suffer. With that kind of incentive, it might not surprise you that I actually succeeded in basically suppressing my stress response without substantially modifying my circumstances, but it did surprise me. About two weeks into this stressful period, I suddenly stopped feeling as stressed, even though nothing had changed. Perhaps it was a natural act of self-preservation, like passing out under extreme pain.

Well, the real lesson I’ve learned is that I can’t afford to burn out. I mean literally: I don’t have the money necessary to just chill for several months without working. So the best cure is actually fastidious prevention. Manage your psychological health regularly for any signs of stress. When it starts showing, make a plan for pulling back from the stressors. If you are too committed at work, have a direct talk with your boss about reducing your work load a bit (7 hours per day, for example) for a week, maybe two, for your health’s sake. If they’re worth anything, they’ll recognize your valid request. If you’re an introvert who’s suddenly found himself committed to too many social events, be direct with some of them and let them know that you need some space to recover. If your friends care about you, they’ll be happy to see you in one or two weeks’ time. If you are feeling the stress of money, find a cheap way to relax (perhaps Netflix or Hulu or that small pile of books that you’ve collected but have yet to even crack open), and don’t go doing crazy things with risk like sky diving or taking a long road trip. I guess those are some recovery strategies for introverts. Extroverts are completely irrational, so I don’t know how to help. Go find more friends or whatever relaxes you, you weirdo.

Hooray for NaBloWriMo!

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