Seeking Solace

The sky isn’t falling, I’m just catastrophizing

More stories from Julia Van Allen

Seeking Solace
May 13, 2019

I’ve been told in the past that it is when darkness seems to take over that the light will peek through. I can admit I tend to focus more on the negatives than positives. Humans are just wired that way, we remember the bad things to keep an eye out for those things in the future.

Avoiding making a catastrophe out of a situation or struggle is a mystery to me, but it’s one I want to figure out.

According to Better Help, “Catastrophizing is when you take a situation and envision the worst possible scenario. The catastrophizing definition also includes taking a minor negative event and perceiving it totally out of proportion — literally, a catastrophe.”

The difference between worrying about something and catastrophizing is the impact that it has on one’s psyche and perception of the world.

Someone who is simply worrying about an exam, for example, won’t be as impacted as someone who is catastrophizing and is already stuck on the idea that forgetting to bring a pencil for the scantron will undoubtedly end with expulsion from the university.

Don’t get me wrong. Having a healthy fight-or-flight response is important, but when things get out of control that is when I know I need to be careful. According to Psych Central, the first way to combat catastrophizing is to recognize it.

For me, it’s difficult to see beyond a situation when it feels like the after effects will ruin everything I’ve worked hard for.

I find that recognizing when my worries are spiraling out of control is the hardest step of the process, I never see that working myself up into a frenzy will only end with me crying somewhere socially inappropriate and making my coworkers uncomfortable.

The number of times I’ve cried on campus because of stress is getting to be too numerous to count, but that’s something I’m working on. One way I’m attempting to assuage this problem is to avoid getting to that place where the only (il)logical thing to do is just cry.

Crying hasn’t fixed my problems before, something tells me it won’t fix my problems now.

I’ve also found recently that when I’m crying over a paper or a certain Adobe program (looking at you, InDesign) that just won’t cooperate, more often than not my stress is exaggerated by lack of sleep.

This time of the semester always seems to mess with my sleep schedule the most, after all it’s difficult to go to bed when I’m tired if I have a million and one things to get done (also, sarcasm doesn’t really help in this situation).

Sleep fixes most things, in my experience. When I’m stressed out and crying over a printer in the library because it’s taking 45 minutes and 3 different computers just to print off one piece of paper for a presentation, my solution is simple: Take a nap, I know I’ll feel better with a little more sleep to keep me going.

I know I did when this happened to me a few weeks ago.

With final exams rolling around and the papers piling high, it’s important to remember that not receiving a perfect score won’t be the end of the world.

Take care of yourselves, Blugolds, and don’t let life’s molehills turn into mountains.

Van Allen can be reached at [email protected].