(Don’t) Shop till you drop

Between navigating classes, settling into new housing, and maintaining a social life, the first few weeks of school are hectic and, frankly, draining.    

This is probably you right now-I know it’s me.

As someone with anxiety, the pressures of shopping period become a maelstrom of stressors triggering worries about how my decisions now may affect the entirety of my time at Brown. Only a few days into shopping period I’m already experiencing debilitating levels of anxiety as my brain crowds itself with worst case scenarios about coursework and juggling my activities.

 

The stress simply mounts when I look around and see that others don’t seem as overwhelmed as I am — though I realize that isn’t necessarily true.

We’re all familiar with the way our school’s character is marketed: Brown students are chill, laidback … happy. I remember touring campus as a prospective student and hearing that Brown students were rated the happiest in the country a few years prior. It’s an appealing idea, though misleading, and I’ve found that concerns about struggling while everyone else seems unfazed are very common amongst Brown students.

We’re all trying to act like we’re never more than just a little stressed about school.

But I’ve learned that it’s okay to be stressed about school, or whatever it is that’s on your mind. I assure you that other people are.

Last May, I attended an Active Minds event entitled “Am I the ideal Brown student”. This came at a very stressful period for me, right at the end of second semester. Finals were in a few weeks, and while I panicked regularly about how in the world to handle all of the studying and essay writing in my impending future, I watched my friends handle their own coursework with apparent ease.

Why do they always seem so relaxed?

I went to this discussion feeling decidedly convinced that I was not the ideal Brown student, that I stressed too much, that I should be able to handle my work with the same casual flair everyone else seemed to possess. But the more people opened up, the more I understood that I’m not the only one who worries, who feels alarmed by the work ahead of me, who doubts myself and my ability to measure up to my peers.

This year, as I trudge through shopping period, I endeavor to keep this lesson in mind. We are all stressed, and that is perfectly normal. We have a right to our anxieties, and we have the ability to work through them.

So breathe.

Some suggestions:

  • Drink a soothing tea. (Chamomile is very mild and soothes an upset stomach.)
  • Engage in physical activity to naturally improve your mood.
  • Meditation in Manning Chapel from 4-5 p.m. (available every day and to people of all experience levels).
  • Strive to reconceptualize long-term goals as a series of short-term goals — believe me, this is an easier burden to bear.
  • Engage in a level of social activity most beneficial to your academic goals and mental health-balance.
  • Get away from campus for a few hours. Take a trip to Blackstone Park or go on a walk in downtown Providence.
  • Treat yo’ self, but also remember that self-care includes staying on task so as not to perpetuate further anxiety in the future.

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