Wednesday 1 November 2017

Stress and the Future: Stress Awareness Day

Katie shares her own experience of Stress in support of National Stress Awareness Day!
- Katie

Sometimes it’s easy to feel overcome with fear of what the future might hold. The unknown is scary to everyone, but those of us who deal with Anxiety, OCD and other mental difficulties, are likely to stress even more. Here’s how I deal with the stress of moving forward:

I’m currently in my second year at University which is usually the time in a person’s academic life when people are told to be considering their future, future careers in particular. I’ve been bombarded with emails regarding career fairs, talks, and opportunities and sometimes it can all feel a little bit overwhelming. I’m 19 years old, I don’t know exactly where I will be in the next ten years, and this often causes me a lot of stress.

The unknown is terrifying, isn’t it? But it doesn’t have to be. I deal with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) in my everyday life and this means that I like order, and the future is something I cannot control. There is no set path through life that everyone goes down, life varies so much for each person but this isn’t a bad thing.

It’s okay that we can’t have everything planned out. Life is so much more exciting because it is unpredictable. Will I live in England forever? Or will a future job or relationship mean I move abroad? How many children will I have? What will my home look like? These are all questions I cannot answer. Of course I can have a basic life plan, but no one knows exactly how life will turn out.

When you tell someone you suffer from anxiety, often you hear this response ‘just don’t think about things that worry you’, which is an impossible feat for anyone to achieve. I have my own ways to deal with anxiety and stress; useful tips I want to share with you. Therefore, when the thought of your future gets you down, you can find a way to calm yourselves, relax and know that no one’s future is set. You can turn that anxiety into excitement for what your life might bring.

Firstly, a good night’s sleep is always a good way to combat stress. I use an app called Sleepcycle to track how well I am sleeping. I also use it to notice any patterns in my eating and drinking habits, and other activities which could be impacting my sleep. Food and drink are very important as caffeinated products are going to intensify stress and anxiety. For me the effects of caffeine particularly on my heart rate is what led me to restrict my intake of things like coffee.

Secondly, reading is my safe haven. Whenever life seems to get a bit too much I bury my head in a good book. I am currently reading ‘The Little Book of Hygge’, which is a particularly relaxing book as it’s all about the ways in which Danish people live their lives, as Denmark is known as the happiest country in the world.

Finally, little things like lighting candles, and taking long hot baths, listening to your favourite album whilst taking a long walk on a crisp sunny morning can all help to destress your soul. The app Headspace is a favourite of mine. I listen to a guided meditation each night before sleeping as it allows you to clear your mind of the days worries and helps you get the best night’s sleep you can.

Stress is a part of everyone’s lives but I hope that some of you can use my tips to relax. Remember it’s okay to feel worried sometimes, you just need to be able to let go of that worry at the end of the day. Don’t let it drag you down, trust me I’ve been there, but you can power through. You’re not alone. I hope you all have the most exciting lives you could ever want.

Hello, I’m Katie, a history student in her second year at Queen Mary University of London. Going to university while living with diagnoses of GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) can be difficult; I am writing for Student Minds to share my experiences.

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