Promoting Positivity

Stress is consuming me, but that’s OK

It’s that time of year where seemingly, no matter what, staying positive is pretty much impossible.

You might have noticed (or maybe not) that I took a few weeks off from writing this column. I wasn’t feeling very positive, folks. I wish I could tell you I was.

Here’s the thing: Having a generally positive outlook doesn’t mean you need to feel positive all the time. In fact, having a peppy attitude 24/7 is at least a little creepy.

We’re human beings. We have emotions. Granted, sometimes those emotions suck, but we have them and we deal with them.

For years I’ve put out this persona that I am a peppy person who is all sunshines and rainbows. That was the lede of my first column this semester, actually.

Lately, I’ve been more prone to showing the unhappy emotions. In response, people have been calling me out on it.

“Emilee, you’re not being yourself,” they’ll say.

“Emilee, you aren’t seeming very happy today,” I’ve heard.

“Emilee, you aren’t smiling as much.”

Yep, I’m a person. It’s shocking, I know, that I have more than one emotion.

Frankly, this semester has been rough. It’s my second-to-last semester before I graduate, so that’s kind of a given, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

I love my classes. I love my jobs and internships. I love my friends. Every aspect of my hectic life is amazing, but that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle.

But I’m not alone in this struggle.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 30 percent of college students’ academic performance have been negatively impacted by stress. Eighty-five percent of students were overwhelmed with all the stuff they had to do during the year.

Stress can make people do some crazy things, I must say. This week I broke down in the kitchen because my smoothie wouldn’t blend. If it’s really bad, I’ve been known to cry when someone looks at me the wrong way. It’s safe to say stress and I are not pals.

Unfortunately, stress can often lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms like drinking, doing drugs, abusing prescription medication and even just doing nothing. Drugs and alcohol are, of course, unhealthy for our mental health but doing nothing in hopes of it just going away will also make things worse.

“All of these strategies can bring short-term relief but at a high cost to both the mind and body,” PsychCentral reports.

I don’t have any healthy coping mechanisms. I’m a big fan of the “doing nothing in hopes of it going away” strategy which, so far, has not worked in the slightest.

Some healthy coping mechanisms, according to the Center for Disease Control, are eating healthy, exercising, sleeping and avoiding drugs and alcohol.

It’s hard to eat healthy and exercise when you’re so stressed out you can’t even complete your homework assignments. I’ve been living off of Taco Bell and Thai Orchid for the better part of a month because I can’t even get to the grocery store, but, yes, eating healthy and exercising will certainly help me feel better.

My point is, it’s OK to be stressed out. That doesn’t mean you aren’t a positive person, it just means you’re having a not-so-positive day (or week or month or year).

Wentland can be reached at [email protected].