No matter what time of year it is, how old you are or where you live, we are all experiencing stress and anxiety in different forms and intensities. Whether it’s keeping a high standard of performance at work, passing hard classes or even just maintaining relationships with people in your life, anxiety can prove to be a severe barrier to happiness. Lately, I’ve found comfort in the discussions about anxiety I seem to be having so frequently with those close to me. Hearing about both the struggles and triumphs that others have gone through while facing high-stress times has been a truly cathartic experience and I began thinking about how important these conversations can be. I decided that I wanted to dig deeper into my community and I gathered some of the successful coping methods people of all ages use in their everyday lives to overcome their own personal stresses.
“When I’m stressed out about school, I think about the order I have to do things. I prioritize and get organized. I’ll try to cut up my tasks into little pieces so that I can feel reassured that I’m being productive. When I’m playing sports, specifically tennis, and I get stressed, I kind of slow down with what I’m doing, tell myself that I’m fine and then focus on what I need to do to fix the problem.” 15-year-old
“I downloaded this app called Headspace, which walks you through breathing exercises, or I watch mindless cartoons to get my mind off of whatever is stressing me out. I also exercise. I grew up playing sports and so I’m always doing intramural sports. If I go too long without working out it amplifies all my other stressors.” 21-year-old
“Usually I’ll tend to look at my discover page on Instagram which is filled with dancing and volleyball videos. I think it’s like a nostalgic thing. Like, it reminds me of all the good times I had dancing and playing volleyball growing up. Back when I used to have so much time and would spend hours doing what I love.” 21-year-old
“[I] always revert to working out or doing yoga if I’m really stressed out. I love the aromatherapy candles. Or I have certain Pinterest pages filled with photos of puppies, or my dream apartment or dream city, that I often turn to in order to remind myself that I’m going through these hard times so that I will one day be in the place that I want to be.” 22-year-old
“I lean on my support network of family and friends. I know they will listen to what I’m feeling and can reassure me. When they aren’t around I tend to focus on my creative hobbies that allow me to put my energy towards something effortful and stop my mind from wandering towards bad places.” 24-year-old
“I run. I usually run at least 4 miles a day. I also do deep breathing. I take a step back, and ask myself ‘do I have to worry about this? Can I control this situation?’ You have to just walk away from the situation for a minute. Get away from that place. Find someone or something that makes you happy.” 52-year-old
“I go see a therapist or talk with a professional counselor. Society can place a negative stigma on being public with your mental health issues. But I think confiding in others about the anxiety you’re feeling can be such an integral step in making you feel less alone.” 60-year-old
When I first began collecting people’s quotes, I originally intended this research to just be a useful tool for our readers at ing to look to if they needed some good advice. In the end, this assignment turned out to be quite a therapeutic and refreshing experience for me. It’s easy to feel alone in day-to-day life and that no one could possibly understand what we’re going through. But this turned out to be a great reminder that I live in a community full of people who not only really understand it, but also feel real empathy for those they see going through it. If you’re feeling anxious and all alone in your mind, I hope that reading this was helpful in proving that you’re not. People at any age and from every background deal with severe anxiety and stress. Reach out to the people in your life, listen to their stories. Take comfort in knowing that we are more alike than we are different, and we can get through these hard times together.
Stephanie Tkaczyk is a senior majoring in Kinesiology who enjoys stressing herself out by taking unnecessary writing classes in order to satisfy her creative side. She loves finding new music more than anything, in addition to traveling to every place on the planet and spending time with other people who watch too many movies. You can follow her on Instagram @hotsteph24.