Hello my name is Ashton and I am stressed out.
An inevitable part of college is going to class and having projects and papers and exams demanding your time and attention. Unfortunately that means that said projects and papers and exams sometimes become overwhelming and you feel like the world is closing in around you as your deadlines approach and the papers don't meet the page requirements and the presentation isn't organized and you feel like you're a kindergartner trying to take a college class and suddenly doing anything beyond breathing seems impossible.
But the good news is that stress is not the end.
Within the past week, I've been to the library every day, and each time I finish one big thing I have to start working on another. I was on the phone with my dad today explaining that I've never felt so much academic weight on my shoulders. Andrew was explaining to me how we all get stressed, but we all deal with it in different ways. The thing about it is that whether you deal with stress one way or another, it's never fun.
I've been living under a tremendous amount of stress, but I'm here to tell us all the good news: stress doesn't have to win.
While I've been in the midst of these crazy days, I've learned a thing or two or three. Here are three ways to conquer the weight of stress:
This morning, I got so overwhelmed that all I had the strength to do was sit and read my Bible. Praying in the midst of academic chaos is the best way to get yourself back to a place of clear thoughts and out from under the weight of stress. Not only does prayer help you to think, but the Lord delights in being able to care for you by helping you through stressful moments.
1 Peter 5:7 says, "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you."
Y'all, it doesn't get more simple than that. The enemy tries to take our moments of great stress and lie to us through them. When we're under all that weight, it's so easy to believe that we are unable and incompetent, but we don't have to! Praying through our stress allows us to come back to God's truth and block our the enemy's lies. When you're packing your backpack to campout in the library, pack your Bible and some loose paper to jot your prayers down. God made your mind and I promise you He can clear it a lot faster than you can.
Be WIth People
I've learned that I study better alone than I do in groups, but I've also learned that it's helpful to have someone you know nearby. I spent five hours in the library on Saturday night with one of my friends and while the time was daunting, having their company made it more enjoyable.
Stress often throws out the lie that we are alone as we deal with all of it. Allowing yourself to be with people can either look like sharing a table in the library or taking a break to see your friends and laugh with them. Stress can easily convince you that your life doesn't exist outside of the library walls and that your to-do list is your best friend, but that's garbage. You are loved and valued, and you have friends that want to help you conquer your assignments. In your moments of stress, find people that make you smile. Let yourself be with people.
Rest is good. God made rest. We were not made to conquer the world. We have to stop telling ourselves that if we just don't move from our chair or look beyond our computer screens then we'll work better. News flash people, we won't!!
You have to allow yourself grace. You have to allow yourself moments of freedom and breaks for coffee or conversations or (if you're me) intramural soccer games and ice cream with your little. Disciplined breaks are great ways to motivate yourself. They can act as rewards for reached goals and sweet relief when it feels extra heavy.
Friends, stress will not win. Pray, be with people, and take breaks. The end is near. The deadlines will come and the stress will pass and, on the other side, you'll feel like a superhero.
Let's do this.
Ashton "I'm better at study breaks than actually studying" Ray