Life Hacks

Keep Turmoil Small: Taking it in Stride Through Moments of College Strife

Your cat is sick and you have a major project due. Your apartment is a wreck because your life is all consumed in school work and working to keep a roof over your head. You are trying to maintain a relationship long distance while hammering out a thesis. Surprise, life isn’t convenient. Not that you don’t already know that.

College is an interesting time indeed. Really, what it is setting you up for is the long-term rhythm of the everyday reality: the unexpected, unwelcome regular interference. These are just cliché examples of course. But their overarching theme carries through all of life’s scenarios. Fear not! As a fellow student I can abundantly relate to all the stresses, anxieties and what-the-fudges you encounter. I would like to present a brief spread of inspiration based on methods I myself have found to serve as particularly wonderful assistance in mitigating the everyday unexpected in the perpetual journey to becoming re-centered!

Namaste and stuff

The fan is being hit. Your eyes start darting. There’s a heat about your skin as the first wave of panic washes over you. It seems your heart is in suspension and tons of little minions are stabbing at it with sewing needles. *hypothetical cracks of thunder* You need to “woosah“. Start with an oldie but goodie method: Try breathing. Not like basic essential for living breathing but intentional breathing. What does this look like though? I find the most effective way of maneuvering a manic moment is to first and foremost, take control over your head. Clear the mind. Yeah I know, easier said than done. But think of a boat with a hole. You would stick a cork in that flow, would you not? (Seriously, plug it if you’re ever in a situation in a real boat. The bottom of a pond feels dreadful on your tootsies). Your plug is a repeated mantra or chant. You can say it over and over in your head or out loud. But use this tool to smother the racing thoughts making you panic.

When I feel anxiety coming on, I say to myself outwardly, but quietly, “focus on your breath…focus on your breath…focus on your breath..” While practicing this chant, do that. Focus your breath and control its rhythm. Close your eyes while you’re at it. You’re basically meditating already. I recommend watching the various interviews Dan Harris has granted about his personal struggle with Panic Disorder and downloading the app he has devised to assist people become “10% Happier” to gather inspiration from a professionals personal methods.

Tune out and turn up

A very practical alternative solution: music. Read any study concerning the applicable properties of listening to music, and classical music is generally the greatest panacea. It lends itself to slowing the pulse and heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the levels of stress hormones. However, not everyone is partial. So hear this. Try the genre known as “Electroswing“. It is trance-inducing, thump-y ear lavender. There’s all the wonderful key-tickling, brassy elements of jazz mixed with the beats and percussion of modern hip-hop, dub and house. I’d suggest starting with my personal favorite Austrian pace-setting producer of this sound, Parov Stelar.

Favor fresh air, don’t feed the nightmare

Hey here’s a novel idea. Put down the Phone and go get lost outside! Huzzah! Fresh air, foliage, stunning vistas, secluded grottos…and yeah. GET OFF CAMPUS. Be like Prairie Dog here! (see enlightened rodent visual aid) The Saint Louis region is teeming with a veritable buffet of recreational options guaranteed to fulfill that need for adventure, space and reprieve while providing much-needed euphoria.

Did you know right in Forest Park there is an actual Forest? Kennedy Forest is a 60 acre area set aside for environmental conservation that features over 3.5 miles of hilly hiking trails that are pedestrian and bicycle friendly alike!

Further abroad, only 20 minutes southwest of campus, you find yourself immersed in Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center. An airily swishing canopy overhead blankets you as you follow the undulating paved paths, where frequently you may encounter the resident deer herd as they graze.

For those of you who enjoy more hands-on recreational activity either individually or with a group, places such as Tower Grove Park, Missouri Botanical Garden, River Des Peres Park and Cliff Cave County Park offer facilities that speak to everyone from soccer players, pick-up footballers, joggers, hikers, tennis players and bicyclists to geocachers, Pokemon Go players, Quidditch players and gardeners! Your options are boundless.

Always the late-bloomer, I have picked up the pursuit of education again in my 30th year, currently pursuing an undergrad degree in Communication Studies here at Fontbonne. You can frequently catch me in wanderlust and existential daydream. Oh. And I have an affinity for using five dollar words, because synonyms rule.

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