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I don’t understand how to manage stress.

In my mind if I am not stressed out about something, that means I have failed. I’ve failed to see the gravity of the situation in front of me. This causes me to feel like I am jeopardizing my chances of having a successful future. It’s an unhealthy cycle that I can’t seem to figure out how to break out of.

In today’s overworked and underpaid society, it’s easy to feel like you need to work your fingers to the bone in order to be successful. We often hear tales such as the assistant working 80 hours a week, sacrificing their personal life to rise through the ranks, and becoming CEO of the company. A modern “success” story. Or we envy our friends who seem like they can balance 5 classes and a job while only sleeping 3 hours a night. Both of these ideas are extremely unhealthy to romanticize. There is currently a glorification of being “overworked” in our society. I know that I suffer from this mentality as well. I currently hold positions in 3 campus organizations, a research group position, a design project position, and a part time job. And I still feel like I should be doing more.

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I’ve realized that I equate stress with success. I feel that I have to constantly be anxious about an assignment, or else I won’t get a good grade on it. Whether it be a school project or a zoom meeting, I find myself worrying or obsessing over being perfect and saying or doing the right things. Frankly, it is getting to be debilitating both mentally and physically. No one should have to feel this much pressure every day of their lives.

I know that I need to relax a little more, and not take things too seriously. But, it is still difficult trying to enact this into everyday life. It is as if my normal state of mind is being anxious. Trying to relax and de-stress feels foreign. There’s also a guilty feeling that bubbles up, like I am committing a crime by not worrying about my future for 5 minutes. The struggle to balance work and fun is very real. However, I am hopeful that it is possible to achieve. [bf_image id="xr8rj39cfn7nphfcsbghs67"]

So, I’ve set my mind on trying to further understand how my unhealthy relationship with success triggers my anxiety and stress. I’m seeking out professional help along the way. I know that this process will be tedious, but it is the only way for me to unravel the pent up ball of stress inside of me. I want to fully enjoy life and feel like it is okay to relax. I’m looking forward to the day when I can proudly say that I have the tools and resources to manage my unhealthy stress levels. Through introspection and working with a therapist, I hope to build a healthy mentality towards work and success. 

I don’t understand how to manage stress. But I’m trying to.

Victoria is a mechanical engineering and communication double major at the University of California, Davis. She loves writing, playing video games, and painting in her free time. Her main goal is to live a creative and fulfilling life.
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