This has been a doozy of a summer for me!
I mentioned in my last post how I had a wonderful trip to Australia in early June. I wish I could have bottled that experience – having time to relax, explore, etc.
Of course, everything after that trip was pretty darn stressful. I had two graduate courses going, and they were no joke. As the weeks went by, somehow the work load for these classes began to just take over everything. It got to the point where I really didn’t want to go into work (for that paycheck) because I had a paper to write or I had to research something.
Each week became a mini crisis as the work piled up and I just ran out of hours in the day. I was staying up late to write, and feeling like hell when I woke up in the morning, as my mind churned over the to-do list endlessly. After a while I developed chronic heartburn! It didn’t matter what I ate or didn’t eat, heart burn wouldn’t leave me alone. I knew it was stress related, but I was too distracted to really deal with it.
Oh, and did I mention that I was frantically searching for an internship for the fall?! I’m working towards a masters degree, and it was time to do an internship. I must know a hundred people in my field, but all my contacts (who tried to help me) came up with crickets. I had visions of my resume being swept down a lonesome street chasing tumble weed. What was going on? I tried to remain calm, knowing that timing was everything, but I was nervous.
In the meantime I was chained to my computer and considering buying stock in Tums. It got to the point that I was so stressed out that I talked to my boss and said I might have to resign. I didn’t have enough time to get it all done, and I didn’t know what my schedule would look like in the fall, because I hadn’t found a bleeping internship yet. When I hit bottom and wanted to cry, something amazing happened.
I told my boss everything – about the classes, the internship search, my time crunch, and my worries about the future. To her credit, she told me that I could work from home and reduce my hours until the classes were finished. Then she asked if she could make some calls on my behalf to help get me an internship! I can’t tell you how much that helped relieve the pressure I was feeling.
Lesson one: talk to people when you need help, and then let them help you!
A few more weeks rolled by, and I was working on my classes like a machine. The one internship I applied to and interviewed for was not getting back to me, so I figured I was up a creek. One night, in desperation, I just googled the heck out of “graduate internship” and actually found one to apply to. I applied at 10 pm, and had a phone call from the school by noon the next day. So this is a reason to rejoice, right? I was so strung out that I had a hard time processing it all. What just happened?!
Lesson two: things “pop” in their own time (so don’t give up!)
I was immensely relieved to have a solid lead, and it did lead to an internship I’ll be starting soon, thank goodness.
I was finally getting somewhere, classes were in the home stretch, work was being flexible, and I had a plan for the fall. It should have been a cake walk at that point, right? Nope. It just so happened that my last two weeks of classes with finals and research papers fell exactly on my family summer beach weeks!
Great, I was finally getting a grip, and it was time to pack up for vacation. I knew there was no way I was going to finish my work surrounded by my extended family at the beach! I decided to stay home for a few days by myself and work like crazy. It wasn’t the end of the world, but there was pressure to get it all done so I didn’t leave my family high and dry. Thankfully my plan worked, and I didn’t miss too much.
By the time I arrived at the beach, I was a mental zombie. What day is it? Where am I supposed to be? Now, the beach has always been my happy place, so as soon I got there, I headed to the beach with my kids. That first day I spent a few hours playing “lifeguard” at the edge of the surf while my kids played in the water. At the end of the day I was shocked to find that I didn’t feel the heartburn anymore. Simply amazing!
Lesson three: go to your happy place (even just in your imagination)
I feel like the summer was about ten years long, and I am sure that the stress probably shortened my life a bit, but I lived to tell about it! Being under stress and needing to perform at my best led me right back to my healthy diet and forced me to get out there and walk to relieve the tension. Now I know going forward that it really helps, and it inspires me to keep it up as long as I can.
Lesson four: when under stress eat super healthy and get lots of exercise.
As you can see, none of these “lessons” is especially ground breaking, but when you are feeling stressed out, it’s easy to forget the basics.
Ask for help
Don’t give up
Go to your happy place
Take care of yourself
Let’s toast to the last days of summer, and hope for a peaceful fall that doesn’t require a Costco sized bottle of Tums!