Summer 2019 has been busy. Between my retail job and my internship, I spent my days off catching up on chores, seeing friends and family, and just trying to be an adult as best as I could. All this running around led me to be more exhausted than I was at the beginning of the summer, which isn’t the best way to start off a new semester.
Last week, I went to the spa to try to take an actual day off before school starts; before I’m thrown into another eight months of stress before I can actually relax again. Since no technology is allowed and I went by myself, I was really all by myself — no one to talk to or to message, no work emails, no social media.
During the first hour there (out of five total), my mind kept thinking about work, about what other people were doing and posting on social media, what I would write for this week’s paper, etc. The time alone made me zero in on the fact that my brain never stops; it’s always thinking about something other than what’s happening in the moment.
What I did notice, though, was this feeling inside of me, what I could only describe as a ball of chaotic energy that made it a little bit difficult to breathe. I realized that it was a feeling of mild anxiety and stress that I hadn’t really noticed before because I was always on the go.
After focusing on my breathing, my mind started slowing down, and I became more present in the moment: I stopped thinking of work, I forgot about social media. I even lost track of time despite there being clocks everywhere. I became so focused on my breathing and on trying to really relax that I fell asleep.
Over the next couple of hours, I really took that time by myself for myself. I tried out all the different options the spa had available: I went from the hot rooms/water to cold baths, then fell asleep. After a few rounds of this little routine, the ball of stress and anxiety that felt like it was consuming my chest and stomach at the beginning of my day had significantly reduced. I felt at peace, less stressed, and more aware of my body. With school having started, it’s inevitable that we’re going to be stressed.
The point of this little story is to remind you to be mindful of the effects stress has on you, both mentally and physically. You don’t have to go to a spa to try to de-stress; simply be mindful of your breathing, remain aware of the effects of stress on you before it feels like it’s too much to handle.
When you feel that ball of chaotic energy beginning to build up, take some time (even a few hours) to be away from technology and other people. Take some time alone to focus on your breathing, treat yourself to some at-home spa-like treatments, take a nap — you’ll wake up feeling refreshed, less stressed, and more at peace.
Graphic by @sundaeghost