Bringing balance to the war on stress

Illustration by Miles Huffman

Stress can be a student’s sword or kryptonite.

Any student fighting to succeed at the collegiate level must learn to channel this potentially lethal energy into productivity.

The daily stressors the average student copes with can be overcome. With extra time management, most can tame their stress and make it work in their favor.

The key is balance.

Academics, physical fitness, hobbies, extracurricular activities, social events, eating, sleeping and “me” time are all important parts of life that deserve attention. It’s all too easy to get caught up in a couple aspects and ignore the rest.

Think of devoted students who spend their weekends in quiet corners of Meriam Library, buried in lecture notes they already know.

Do they have a social life?

Some students keep bottles of cheap vodka at arms length, prepared to party on a Tuesday night if the rest of town would stop turning down.

And for what?

While the sun-dried gym rats live in the WREC, only gracing the student body with their orange skin, tight tank tops and inflated muscles when it’s time to feast.

One detail all these lifestyles lack is balance. Eventually all will lead to distress.

I have always been a serious student. But my sophomore year, I decided to treat being a student as my career. I dedicated a lot of time to school — too much time.

I hit the books seven days a week. I hit the sack hours after my roommates, and I hit the shower in the a.m. before they were done dreaming.

When I wasn’t in class, I was typically in my bedroom studying.

My room became my cave. I’d disappeared into the candlelit cavern and no one knew when to expect me again.

Needless to say, I lacked a social life.

I hit the gym regularly to blow off steam, but eventually I got burned out, not just of the gym but of everything.

I was emotionally and physically drained. I lacked motivation.

School was routine, so I kept it up. But I wasn’t exactly happy.

Soon thereafter my mom emailed me a podcast on the concept of grit — picking oneself up by the bootstraps and persevering.

A lot of life comes down to mentality and my predicament was no exception. The podcast inspired in me a new outlook on life.

I worked to achieve balance by working out less but often enough, figuring out which classes most deserved my attention and giving up Saturdays to me, myself and I.

My once distress became eustress — stress with a positive impact.

I still feel the weight of deadlines, social pressure and barbells. But instead of permitting all of life’s obligations to overwhelm me, I’m taking it one day at a time, one task at a time.

Many students may figure out time and stress management naturally during their years at Chico State. Other students have to work a little harder to maintain the Zen.

Either way, stress can only be avoided through death, so learn to live with it.

Miles Inserra can be reached at [email protected] or @m_inserra on Twitter