Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Summer Time Stress Less

I wanted to keep track of some changes that I noticed over the summer. By noting the positive effects of the summer, I hope that I can extend some of them into the school year.

The main change is that I am so much less stressed. I'd attribute it to a few core things: leaving the stress of work at 5pm, not living in a dorm, having a very stable routine. For me, most things are bearable if I know they have an ending! There's something extraordinarily stressful about a surprise flare up. I think that establishing a routine for the school year would be very helpful in lowering my stress level during the year. For establishing that boundary of routine, I will have a commute. Similarly, demarcating end points for projects, even if they're only internal, would help me to plan out my time and decrease my stress. So I'm going to dedicate the time I spend on campus to studying. I hope that my establishing a boundary between home and school work will decrease my stress the way the external boundary I had over the summer did.

I've noticed that I have less acne this summer! This might seem like a small thing and my acne isn't that bad, but I've been very frustrated with my acne flaring up during the school year. Acne can hurt! I have the bad habit of distractedly scratching my face when I'm stressed; I even scratch in my sleep. So even a minor acne flare up before finals can be quickly compounded. But my skin has been so clear over the summer that I haven't even needed BBcream! I think less stress as well as being able to drink more water helped with the acne. It's amazing - and a little scary - to see the physical effects that come with stress. I'm going to keep up with drinking water during the year!

The other aspect that I think has helped with my stress - and probably the acne too - is that I've been cooking for myself. I've cut down on eating out and frozen meals. Almost all of the food I've eaten over the past month has been food I made at home from scratch. I'm really not sure if Whole Food's organic food was a significant contribution to the health benefits, but I know that cutting out processed food made a big difference. I also tried out a farm share during the summer but it didn't work out due to the amount and selection of food. I'm so proud of trying out so many different recipes and sources. Experimenting with some failures led to accomplishing this major success! It really wouldn't seem possible based on where I was when I first came to college. And even looking at the start of this year, I'm glad that I've extended myself way past eating breakfast everyday. My new goal is to make all of my meals at home! I do still have my snack food weakness, anything chocolate based and bite sized, but I've also found a healthy granola that I really like to snack on at work. I can literally feel the difference in my energy levels now that I am eating whenever I feel hungry. My energy and mood stay nice and even rather than crashing; my work productivity also stays high. So I think that eating regularly and more healthily has made a big difference in my stress and energy levels. I want to keep that momentum for the school year!

Over the summer, I've read a number of books. I made myself a promise that I wasn't buying any more books until I finished reading the ones I already own. I'm amazed by the progress I've been making on that front! I've read all of my kindle books over the commute. I read through an introductory museum book at work. I'm now light reading through some course books for the fall term. Additionally, I've been keeping up with a few blogs. In turn, this reading has kept up my passion for writing for my blog. I never read this much during the school year, both as far as breadth and depth. I love reading and it seems like I had forgotten that, bogged down in coursework. It's great to have the time and focus to pursue my reading interests outside of coursework.

My summertime has really had less stress than the school year. Even with some external stressors, I'm still feeling more relaxed than I do over the term. By writing this out, I think I've got a more clear understanding of what changes caused this relaxation. Hopefully, implementing these significant changes during the term will lead to the same less stressed result.