Stop The Ride, Please: The Struggle Between Work and Well-Being

If you ask me, the end of the school year is the worst time of year: papers on papers on tests on tests on study guide on study guide after study guide.

I don’t do well with pressure, but I do even worse with pressure when I can’t let off any steam which is why I don’t do well with pressure…(et cetera, et cetera, as the vicious cycle continues).

The worst part about not being very good with pressure at the end of the school year is the part where something that throws me off emotionally happens between my final on Tuesday and my final on Wednesday morning and I barely have the time to process it, let alone deal with it. Instead, I have to stiffen my upper lip and walk home to do more studying, all while my eyes sting and I’m trying to sniffle quietly, so as not to freak out the guy standing next to me at the crosswalk. But even when I get home and open a book to study, I’m in a place emotionally where I couldn’t concentrate if I wanted to, with my body drooping over my notes and notecards, my stomach grumbling but having no desire to eat or move, all while a part of my brain shouts, “I don’t have time for this, I have a final tomorrow!”

Dealing with depression and depressive tendencies while being a student is and always has been tough, but it gets tougher when you feel like you don’t have time to even think about what’s happening to you or what’s affecting you at the moment. You can’t address how you feel to try to make yourself feel better and you end up sinking further and further into a melancholy place, which is the last you want to be when trying to study or get work done. And it’s something that I so look forward to being able to put behind me, the constant struggle to keep up with both my work and my emotions, as well as the half-hearted attempt to seem like I have everything under control.

Because I don’t, and rarely do I, over circumstances or outcomes of happenstance, or sometimes my reactions to those circumstances. I can’t plan my episodes or try and pencil them into my schedule and I’m tired of having to struggle with the pressure of dealing with school and all its parts and my emotions, my mental health. And work will come when I’m out of school, of course, along with depressive episodes, but in that realm, for the most part, I have a night to unwind, to be comforted, to figure myself and my emotions out. But semesters often feel like a carnival ride I’m strapped to that keeps turning and turning all night and all day, despite my attempts to breathe or at least keep my lunch down.

And I just don’t do well with that. I need time, and as easy as it sounds to say, “Make time,” sometimes, you can’t make something out of nothing – and if I don’t have time, where am I even supposed to find time to make it? (That’s just science people). I’m just ready to stop having to put myself and my emotions behind so many other things. Long after the papers are graded and my diploma has been hanging on the wall, I’ll still be living with my mind and I don’t want to suffer then because I had no room to detoxify my mind now. I want my mind and its health to be a priority and I crave the ability to stop putting it last because I shouldn’t have to and I no longer want to.

Tip Time:

If you find yourself feeling held down by pressure, depression, anxiety or even if you just had a bad day, there’s still things you can do to make yourself feel a little better, even when you’ve got a full to-do list. You shouldn’t have to force yourself to bury your emotions or pretend they aren’t bothering you just because you have work waiting for you. Stand up for yourself and take a small step or two for the better. Try one or a few of these tips to help you feel a little brighter so you can work a little better:

  1. Take 30 minutes to talk to a close friend or relative – On the phone or in person, whatever is easiest. Sometimes when we’re having a rough time, we need to turn to the people we trust the most or the people who we know are always there for us. Call or talk to that person and say, “Hey, I’ve only got about 30 minutes, but I really wanted to talk to you. I’m feeling a little bummed,” and let them help you feel better or at least feel like you can accomplish the tasks you have waiting for you.
  2. Watch a show that makes you laugh – What’s your favorite sitcom or cartoon? Studies have shown that laughter can help make depressive or bummed out feelings dissipate for a bit, releasing some endorphins and helping you smile. After watching an episode of your favorite funny show, you might feel a bit more perked up and feel like you’ve released some stress, putting you in a better place to do some work.
  3. Take a short walk – A lot of people list exercise as something to do while you’re feeling down but sometimes it’s even tough to get up and lace up a pair of running shoes, so instead of, “Go exercise,” I say, take a stroll. Walk to a nearby park or store or just around the block, even. Fresh air and sunshine can make your body feel better as well as your mind. Plus, you have time to think about whatever you want or to not think at all.
  4. Play with your pet – Let’s be honest: sometimes it’s hard to be sad when a cute and furry creature is pawing you or panting happily at you. Playing with your pet for 20-30 minutes is not only a great way to take your mind of things that might be making you feel down but it’s also fun! Not to mention that petting a cat or dog can enhance your mood, reduce stress, and just make you feel loved.

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