As you enter another week of classes, the newness of the semester is wearing off, you may find yourself wondering, what have I gotten myself into? If you’re feeling overwhelmed – worried about your next deadline, grade, or numerous commitments – may you take a moment to slow down and breathe. Consider naming where you are and what is going on inside and around you. Anxiety often lurks in the places of our soul where we feel helpless, hurried, and afraid. As the work piles up and expectations grow, may these 3 practices be a gentle guide to relieve some of the stress.
1. Practice kindness
When you’re faced with disappointment, uncertainty, or confusion, consider being kind to yourself. Take care of your body and mind. Be gentle with yourself. You’re doing the best you can with the information you have, and others are doing the same. When anxiety creeps in, instead of whispering the worst about how you “could have” or “should have” done this or said that, give your mind a break and take a walk, eat a meal, or take a warm shower. Perhaps your mind and body will thank you later.
2. Practice presence
Anxiety often keeps us from entering the present moment, making us miss the things and people that are right in front of us. When we focus on the present moment, we fix our attention on what is happening in the here and now. Rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future, may we center our hearts on this very moment. What’s going on around you? What emotions have you noticed? What thoughts have been occupying your mind? Who are you with right now? What are you doing? Can you slow down long enough to answer these questions? You can only entertain one thought at a time. When you answered those questions, did you notice how your other thoughts had to disappear, even if only for a moment? You can address those concerns, but can you address them now? If the answer is no, consider letting them go and come back to the present.
3. Practice connection
Some of the greatest friendships have started with the words, “Wait, you do that too? I thought I was the only one.” While pain may be a burden we all bear, we do not have to carry it alone in the darkness, hidden from others. Anxiety grows in isolation, and loneliness only furthers that growth. Let some people in and allow light to illuminate the dark places. There is relief found in connection with others. Even if others may not know exactly how you feel or have not been exactly where you are, you may find some healing in their story, and they may find some healing in yours too.
We hope these simple practices can be one way of relieving the pressure as you move toward the height of the semester. Amid many distractions fighting for your attention, may the peace of Christ surprise you along the way, and may you be gentle with yourself as you practice presence and connection with yourself and those around you.
If you’re interested in Christian counseling, Heritage Counseling Center is located in the Wellness Center on Judson University’s campus. You can make an appointment by visiting our website (https://www.heritagecounseling.com/locations#JudsonUniversity) or calling us at 847.450.0577. Initial consultations are free to students and we are able to work with your insurance plan to see coverage details.
Erin Lawinger | LSW