Working full-time while being in grad school can be overwhelming. These days I have every hour of the day scheduled out in a planner so that everything that needs to get done is accounted for. Needless to say, the little mishaps of life, like traffic or tech issues, can really throw me for a loop. As things get piled up higher and higher throughout the day, so does the stress. However, it wasn’t until recently that I realized that the stress I was feeling was becoming chronic.
Week after week, a pattern was developing and there seemed to be no respite in sight. I could certainly feel and see it in my body, too. Anxiety, a little gradual weight gain, issues with sleep, and my poor, poor skin. (It’s funny—and not a little coincidental—how the effects of stress are also stressors!) Seeing that my commitments were going to be keeping me busy for a while longer, I decided that I needed to start making some changes ASAP. I couldn’t bear the thought of being another statistic.
The inevitable with health communicators, though, is that while we are well-versed in what we should be doing, we don’t always follow our own advice. Sometimes we’re consumers, too. So where do we go when we need a little help? The Internet, of course! I would have to embark on what I consider a self-taught journey to wellness.
One of the things I had been neglecting the most was physical activity. I tend to sit a lot at work, and studying at home doesn’t help. There were days where I would crave a good yoga session, but none of the classes around me fit in my schedule. That is how I discovered SworkIt, an app that coaches different areas of circuit training. The first time I tried it, I only had 30 minutes. It set up a routine for me that consisted of a rotation of poses in intervals and, best of all, I got to do it in the comfort of my own living room.
Almost immediately, I felt empowered. The thing about yoga that has always appealed to me is not just the physical benefits but the mental ones. When you focus on breathing, for example, you are being present. Part of the reason I had been feeling so overwhelmed is that I was thinking about everything I had to do instead of just tackling one thing at a time.
In being more mindful of what was causing me stress, I found that supplementing positive feelings to mundane tasks has helped me get things done in a way that is more enjoyable. Relaxing music (try the “Deep Focus” playlist on Spotify—it’s life-changing) and calming scents (essential oils, my favorite candles) have helped me immensely. When I’ve needed an extra push, my favorite blog, Tiny Buddha, has an app that is chock full of positive affirmations ready for you when you need them. I’ve even been known to go “Cold Turkey” on all distractions online (the website does have a fee, but part of it is charitable) for the sake of avoiding procrastination—a huge stressor for anyone.
Finding what works for me has helped me gain a sense of self. It’s help me realize that regardless of circumstances, one is in control of their own mindset. Next time you feel yourself caught in a routine, stop for a moment to think about what you are doing. It could be the most productive and healthy thing you do all day.