If you were to go back in time and tell your past self about 2020, what would you say? Would you warn of the imminent pandemic? The impending social conflict? Or perhaps murder hornets? In any case, it would truly be a mouthful. Or, perhaps you wouldn’t say a word, and not disrupt the spacetime continuum of classic sci-fi. To say 2020 was a rollercoaster ride is perhaps not only the understatement of the year, or decade, but the century.
Above all the challenges facing us, there is perhaps no greater threat than that of the looming collapse of our psychological state due to the exponentially growing stress and anxiety of our daily lives. However, there is some good news in the war to defeat this ever-mounting stress. Perhaps, it will remove the snow, bucket by bucket, before the avalanche comes crashing down. Here are some great tips from psychologists around the world on how to deal with stress and anxiety:
1. Take a time-out: Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head, and allows you to focus on what’s truly important.
2. Eat well-balanced meals: Do not skip any meals. Humans can survive without a lot of things, but food (and water) is simply not one of them. Another idea is to keep energy-boosting snacks on hand, and always keep hydrated.
3. Limit your caffeine intake. Caffeine has been proven to aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
4. Make sure you get 8-9 hours of sleep: I know, being a Cheverus student takes a lot of time. Between homework, meals, time with family and friends, and video games, there is very little time to sleep, according to the CDC, high school students only get an average of 7 hours of sleep a night, rather than the 9 hours they should. This, also according to the CDC, can increase the risk of serious medical issues such as obesity, diabetes, injuries, struggling mental health, and problems with attention and behavior.
5. Exercise daily: Doing even just 30 minutes of physical exercise can help you feel good and maintain your physical, and even emotional health. In fact, according to wgu.edu, it can actually increase your ability to learn new information and absorb more of those 20lbs textbooks we carry that eventually cause back pain when we’re older.
6. Accept that you simply cannot control everything: Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think? Often we tend to over-exaggerate our struggles and the things that cause us to be anxious. You could also invoke the prayer of serenity: “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
7. Welcome humor: A good laugh goes a very long way. According to Business Insider, “A wealth of evidence has found that funny people tend to be smarter, healthier, and less stressed about their lives.” In short, understand that bad things will occur, in that way you will be prepared when they come.
8. Always maintain a positive attitude: Last, but not least, maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. This way, you will enjoy life so much more, and enjoy the limited time we have on this blue dot of a planet.
Theo Burkhardt, Writer