Guest blog post coming right up…
Let me introduce you to a great friend of mine—(in his own words)—“The Illustrious Julian Fung Himself”. 😛
To give my readers some context: Julian and I met at a summer camp last year. I struggled with stress management while I was on the staff team for the summer camp, while Julian remained cool and composed during relaxed and hectic situations. So, I humbled myself and asked my ‘assistant’ how I could better deal with stress. He was kind enough to give me a long-winded answer, and the following essay was the result.
(Edited with permission: also, I have inserted my own thoughts/comments in italics throughout.)
I hope this mini-essay would be able to help those who read it, whether they be students trying to survive the craziness of ending yet another school year/semester, or people just living through the busy day-to-day hustle and bustle.
Well, I’ll say that keeping your cool is a very hard thing to do. Here’s a few things I could highlight and break down that may be helpful to you:
1) A support system.
A key to not having stress/managing it is to be able to remove it from your system. Many people crumble/break down because they have too much stress built up in them, even if they think they’ve repressed it. You also can’t discredit just having fun or fellowship with others, as it serves the same purpose to relieve stress.
Personally, I find that talking things out with my sister helps a lot. Having study-buddies, someone to lean on, or to just have fun with once in a while, really helps.
Ergo, feeling relaxed/letting things out reduces stress
2) Realize everyone’s in the same boat.
In the end, we’re all just clueless people who pretend to know what to do by applying experience to what we’re doing. It’s true for me, for you.
Every day, we learn. It’s how we build experience. I saw it with you, I saw it my friends and I saw it in myself. Pastors talk of it all the time, when they speak about how sinful their lives used to be. In this process of learning, many people get discouraged since a single failure is seen as just that, a failure. In truth, many people find it hard to realize that it’s not only a mistake, but it’s a learning experience. One of many that will end up culminating in experience to be applied later, much like how you learned as a child how dangerous an iron is,
It’s kinda like a story:
Initial mistake: You touch the iron, get burned.
Damage control/moving on: You cool your hand, stop the pain.
Lesson: You don’t touch the hot end of the iron
Experience/Learning: You use the other side of the iron, you don’t get burned again. Prosperity and further learning follow.
As in Owen’s guest post: learn and grow through your mistakes. 😛 This is key for me: the stress of the mistake itself AND the frustration of having committed the same mistake again is disabling. I’ve been there. Don’t do that.
Ergo, as experience builds, you can deal with many situations better than you would have before.
3) Prioritization/Distraction/Choice making
Here’s a hard-learned skill I had to build after all my years in the QuAlItY eDuCaTiOn our government offers. Many people who seem to deal well with stress are actually just hiding it in favor of leading the way for others. Perhaps during summer camp, you saw me step back and take a breath, or go quiet for a few moments before speaking up? Maybe even saw me step out to grab a drink or go to the washroom in the middle of project prep? Each of those moments, I stopped to pause before plunging back into my work. See, I’ve learned in time that any position of leadership leads to having to need to make lots of small, tough choices, hence the mistake note above.
A quote: “No plan survives first contact with the enemy”. (It’s supposedly attributed to Rommel). You’ll have to often make quick choices to keep the flow of the camp/situation going. It’ll help distract others and keep their minds off any developing situation. If they’re distracted, you have less pressure on you for the time being.
It also helps that I can go “Right, I have Thing A and Thing B. Thing A is a project due in 5 days. Thing B is leading these people on a trip today. Let’s do Thing B first. I can worry about B later.” Or “Thing B is now, Thing A is later. Work on B, but don’t forget about A.”
I’ll say that this does not mean procrastinating on things you know you should be doing: procrastination really only gives you temporary stress relief—you’ll experience just the same amount(probably more) of stress you have before. Do take breaks, though: no one could–or should–work like a machine for hours on end. Exercise, read the Bible, chat with a family member…anything that is productive and could take your mind off what’s stressing you out would be a great idea for a break.
Ergo, quick decisionmaking can relieve pressure/stress
Hope this helps!! If you guys have any thoughts and/or advice to add to this, let us know in the comments below!!
(And to all the students reading this: let's make this last semester the best one yet. A few more weeks to go, and summer would be here! Yeah!)