Stress? What stress?

The room needs to be cleaned. The dog needs to be fed. An eight hundred word assignment is due the next day, along with a fifteen page math workbook. Ten questions of physics need to be answered and submitted and an essay-length question is pending. Exams are just a few days away and CIEs are looming dangerously close. Guests are about to come over for the birthday dinner tonight and you have to keep up appearances at school and at home. Parental expectations, social pressure, peer pressure, exam anxiety, grades, GPA, teachers, homework, universities, your future hangs in the balance. Study! Study! Study! Oh, and don’t forget to get eight to ten hours of sleep.

Who can manage all that and not crack under stress? We’ve all heard that before, and we’ve also heard; but if you want to pursue your passion, how can you be ‘stressed’? There is no such word as stressed when going after passion! Actually, there is. Stress is something we teenagers are prone to, yet, what exactly is stress?

Let me clear the difference between stress and pursuing your passion.

Working hard for something we do not care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.

We spend so many hours of our day being filled to the brim with anxiety of our pending work. Our minds and thoughts so haywired and fried that we can’t enjoy the present, but rather continue to ponder the unforeseeable future.

Stress is not something uncommon and comes in many shapes and forms and types – you know, kind of like people. How about we talk about the ‘nerd’ of stresses: academics. The number of subjects you take depends on you, but only if they are of your choice, otherwise you will end up miserable. Then there is homework, and the assignments, even the occasional presentations. Then there are the exams and their syllabus. It’s hectic. And when you spend so many hours of so many days without family interactions, you get homesick, despite the fact that you are at home. Now, due to this constant workload, and trying to keep up appearances, and the overall expectations that you try so desperately to meet just so that you can fit in, you start to forget to eat, drink, and sleep.

You lose control of your life and eventually collapse into a crying and wailing heap of shivering flesh.

That, my dear, is the burnout.

Let us discuss ways to prevent such a misfortune befalling on us, shall we? For once you suffer from a burnout, you cannot, under any circumstances get back on track. Believe me, because I speak from experience. I’m sure that some, of not most, of you completely understand what I’m talking about and beg for an end to this.

First of all, get that “saviour-on-a-White-stallion” image out of your head. No one is going to come and swoop you off your feet and rescue you from this while riding off into the sunset. So, let that fairy tail imagination go and leave it to the pre-schoolers before it’s too late. The only person, in this whole world, who is going to save you, is no one other than you.

Another thing I want to you to keep in mind is this little known fact that bursts out of our mouths in moments of insane frustration: “it’s my life!” Yes! It’s your life! Take charge, commander. Do not be afraid to take the wheel when you’re the only one that knows the way. Stand tall. It is better to stand alone than to stoop in fear. Yes, the whole ordeal of taking-charge-and-becoming-independent is nerve-wrecking, but once the tires are turning, things will go on as smoothly as a luxury yacht sailing on a clear blue ocean.

Learn to say ‘no’. If someone wants you to do something, which you have no interest in, just flat out reject them. Why? Well, first of all, you’re not the only person cut out for this job, and second; why force yourself? It will only affect you, not the person that told you to do it, not your mother, and most certainly not president Obama. If you have trouble saying “no”, practice in front of the mirror, just like our parents and teachers love to say: “practice makes perfect”.

Another thing I want you to start, is stop. Yes, stop. Take a day, one single day form your busy week and just relax. Take a nice bubble bath, read a book, enjoy the weather outside, binge watch a series, listen to music, mediate, exercise, live, laugh, grow! But under no circumstances are you supposed to touch your course books. You have another six days for that tedious task. Take some time off and dedicate it to the most important person to you: you.

Let go of all that negativity, throw away everything that makes you unhappy, burn it if you want. Just let it go. One way of de-stressing is letting it all out. Scream, yell, throw a tantrum, cry if you must, just let it out. Bottling up all that negativity that you drag along with that stress gives you nothing but self-inflicted torture and you are worth so much more.

Let me give you an example.

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired, “How heavy is this glass of water?” The answers called out ranged from eighty ounces to twenty ounces. She replied, “The absolute weight does not matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralysed. In each case, the weight of the glass does not change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued. “The stress and worries in life are like this glass of water. Think about them for a while, and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer, and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralysed – incapable of doing anything.”

“Always remember to put the glass down.”