The importance of calming down

The majority of students at university will at some point experience a period of stress while studying their degree. This could be from work load and deadlines, to difficult housemates and external pressure such as finance or family. Whilst some students can handle their levels of stress very well (a category I proudly place myself in during the final year of my degree), others tend to be unequipped to tackle the levels of stress that present themselves. To a certain extent, stress can be good for the mind to handle unfamiliar situations, yet stress in abundance causes long-term chronic stress, the bad type of stress that begins to become normalised into daily life. Without relief or relaxation, stressed people can form bad habits such as poor eating or under sleeping, enhancing the feelings of stress upon the body and mind and further expanding the cycle of chronic stress.

After the first two years of my university experience being under the state of ‘chronic stress’ from financial problems, mental health issues and lots of bad luck… my familiar routine was filled with anxiety and panic. Coming to terms with my mental health both with professional support and personally, enabled me to realise how I needed to balance my routine a certain way and practice self-care to bring the best of myself into every challenge I faced. I was strict with myself in getting sleep, turning down social events and taking many breaks. This gave me the time to stay and feel as calm as I could during the stressful final year. Even in this stress, I was able to generate a routine that kept me in balance with a completely full schedule of university in the week, and work at the weekend.

It is the unusual stresses that completely wear you down. Although I am more susceptible to stress, slightly longer forms of stress that shift your routine in challenging ways sometimes become more difficult to handle. Currently I have just moved out of my nice little flat with my boyfriend in Cornwall, into a house/project in London. It is crazy just how many things you can accumulate over a year in one place, and in three years of leaving home. Useful things too – this is after all of the rubbish has been thrown away. Although I am looking forward to what the next exciting period of life in London brings, I am also nervous to the pressures that a new lifestyle will bring to my everyday. Whatever these next few months of decisions will bring… I hope that I can develop a routine that keeps stress levels down.

Recently, I made a small film as part of a collaboration project of thirty artists to raise money for the mental health charity Mind. Unlike my usual mixed media style, I made this film entirely digital due to the short time frame I had to make it, using both digital cameras and a graphics tablet to form the piece. Titled ’90 seconds of calm’, I focused on the calming elements of nature and breathing, that have often helped me through hard periods of anxiety and stress. Although the film is currently privatised to be shared to the donators of the charity project first, I will be sharing the film in a few months when digital downloads have been released.

Happy ‘hump day’ and have a relaxing week…

Sophie x

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