Sustainably stressed

I’m stressed out! When the semester begins, it’s like running on solid, grippy granite. As the semester rolls on, little pockets of ice begin to appear here and there. By the time this part of the semester arrives, the granite is frozen over with ice and if I’m lucky, I brought the right tools. Otherwise, I crash face first onto the ice. The semester was supposed to be a breeze, but now it is an ordeal.

When I’m stressed out like this, I start cutting corners in a sustainable lifestyle. I begin driving to class, eating more pre-packaged junk food, forgetting to do my laundry, buying coffee instead of making it at home and procrastinate by shopping for things I do not need, but think I do in the moment – all in the hopes that by doing these things, I will be less stressed or provide me with more time. Unfortunately, it almost always goes the other way.

I’m an environmental studies major and doing these things makes me even more stressed out because I feel guilty for not making the effort. Even worse, they objectively don’t help. Driving to campus from where I live takes just as long as biking, plus I don’t get in any exercise. Even once I do get to class, I can’t focus. Pre-packaged junk food seems filling, convenient and quick, but it fails to provide me with the nutrients I need to be a successful student. Okay, stop, we get it…

How do I stay sustainable while being stressed out with classes, work and life?

Start by identifying what is actually helping and what is counterproductive. This will be different for everyone. For me, it’s to start biking to school again. It takes just as long, if not quicker, to do so and I focus on my work once I’m there. Another method would be to take the bus and do work on the bus.

Secondly, start meal planning. And no, I’m not suggesting you should spend a Saturday afternoon cooking ahead for the rest of the week. As students, we don’t have time, the slightest inclination or even the fridge space. Just plan out dinners that will have extra leftovers, which can roll over to the next day. So, when you cook, it’s for two or more days, rather than just one. Then do the little things: the night before, prep your coffee brewing method, pre-pack your bag and even get crazy with a bagel waiting for you in the toaster oven.

Set your bag to have a standard daily carry. For instance, I have reusables designated to each bag I use. Admittedly, it’s only two bags but, when I clean that reusable, it goes straight back into the bag, so it feels weird without it. Set a specific day you shop for food for a week – nothing more, nothing less – that way, it is always fresh and the time is set aside, so you don’t have to rush through shopping.

Do you have more tips for when your stressed? Help a friend.

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