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By Lindsay Kriz
KPA Summer intern
During my elementary school days, one of the requirements for gym class was that every year we had to run a half of a mile, or 12 laps, around the gym. It was rigorous, gross and embarrassing, and I was always one of the last people to still be running (or walking) while the kids who'd already finished yelled and encouraged me on (though I'm sure they were all secretly laughing at me).
The entire week before the run I would sit at home, my stomach constantly aching, my ability to sleep and function properly completely corrupted. I would constantly ask my parents, "Mom, dad, you think I'll be okay, right?" And naturally, they always said, "Of course sweetie! It's just a little run! You'll be fine!"
But no matter what they said, I would still ask the same question multiple times, would get the same answer multiple times, but I still never took solace in their words, and I would remain anxious until I took the very first lap.
Throughout middle school and high school I dealt with the same stress symptoms, and, as I had in elementary school, I would pester my mother and father for comfort and advice on whatever I was stressing about. And, like before, they would more or less provide me the same advice. But I still hadn't truly taken any of their advice to heart. When I dealt with stress in negative ways by focusing on my problems and dealing with my stomach aches, I realize now that I was simply reacting to the stress.
Today, I've learned that in order for me to conquer anything that's stressing me out, I need to be proactive, not reactive. Now that I'm in college, instead of beginning a paper the night before it's due, I'll begin planning the paper at least a week in advance. I'll make a trip to the library to gather supporting evidence, I'll plan out each paragraph and what it will contain and I'll sometimes have someone proof-read my work before I turn it in to my professor.
I also learned that I need to take some time for myself and relax, even if it feels like relaxing would deter me from my work, because if I'm not functioning properly, or I fall sick or have a mental breakdown, then I can't be performing at my best level, and my work will inevitably suffer. Whether it means sleeping in on the weekends, having a meal or watching a movie with friends or even taking a ride around town, relaxing and taking time off from the stress of the day has helped me so much, and it should help you, too.
After all these years I've learned to stop the horrible aches and pains that afflict me when I'm panicking about something. But that still doesn't mean my stress will ever be over. It just means I've learned secrets to keeping a clear, sane head in times of true insanity.