Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bossy, unsolicited advice.

The last few weeks have been absolutely, 100% crazy. And since I just took on two new writing opportunities (which I am thrilled about btw) and since the semester is drawing to a close and piling on the exams/papers/projects, things are only going to get crazier.

I'm stressed. I'm overwhelmed. The caffeine intake has crept up.

And yet. I feel like I can handle it. No. I know I can handle it.

I know because things have changed since the last time I was in college, overwhelmed by school work and social obligations and internships. Back then, my way of dealing with stress was primarily heavy drinking on the weekends and popping a few "study aids" on a Sunday morning to get everything done. If you haven't been to an American college in the last ten years, this causal reference to "study aids" may shock you. Take a few moments to collect yourself.

Okay still there? Yes, around finals (and only around finals) I may have used some "study aids." My experience with "study aids" (legal ones mind you) was always the same. I would sit at my desk for 12 hours straight writing a paper or studying for an exam until I looked up and realized it was dark outside, I wasn't wearing pants, and I hadn't eaten or peed all day. I would then proceed to clean my entire apartment.

This wasn't healthy. In fact nothing about my routine to deal with stress was healthy. I began to eat worse, because I couldn't bother to go to Harris Teeter (I miss you Teeter!) to get food to cook. I relied mainly on delivery from Majestic Grill (this place delivered pancakes day and night, and that is why I loved living in a college town) and Papa John's. I ate chocolate covered espresso beans like they were candy (okay fine they technically are candy, but they shouldn't be!) I didn't see the sun for days at a time. My average nights sleep crept down to, oh, I don't know, about three hours.

It wasn't pretty. But this time, at this point in my life, my priorities have shifted a little. Namely I realize  that instead of relegating nutrition, exercise, and sleep to the bottom of the pile when things get hectic, I need to keep them at the top.

I think we have a tendency to throw those things out when we're busy. We convince ourselves we don't have to sleep, don't have to eat anything not served from a cardboard box. I've done it, far too many times.

But that's so silly. Because at the end of the day, doing well at school or even work means diddly squat if you're not healthy. And I know some people might be rolling their eyes, all hmph, this girl doesn't know busy. Some of you might work full time, take full time classes, have 17 children, and do freelance consulting for NASA.

And if that's the case, well, if that's the case I really can't say anything. Go along your way. But for everyone else, I'm just going to be bossy and obtrusive for a moment. It's so much easier to deal with stress if you have a healthy foundation (sleep, good food, exercise-pretty simple actually). And I know we say we don't have time, but if you neglect those things for long enough you'll get sick or you'll feel sick and then your work is going to suffer anyway. If you keep neglecting those things, well, you'll probably die or one of your legs might fall off. And then it really won't matter.

I can deal this time around without resorting to Jesse Spano territory. An hour at the gym or at the grocery store or asleep means an hour less time to study and to work, but in the end it makes the work I do better because it's coming from a place of restfulness and vigor.

Instead of the sleep-deprived, hallucinatory, vacuuming the walls place of insanity that was my life for most of college.

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