Stress is a thing that everyone experiences at different points in their lives, affecting different people in different ways. Some can make their stress vanish with the click of a finger and others are forced to endure it for as long as they have to. This year, contrary to what I would’ve have thought prior, I found myself falling into the latter category.

When my stress levels were at their peak, I found myself riddled with new feelings of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Feelings I wasn’t used to dealing with. Due to my fear of appearing weak, I bottled my feelings up instead of sharing them; leading me to overthink practically everything I was doing and coming into contact with at the time. It affected pretty much every inch of my day to day: social life, University work and creative ability. I found myself feeling awkward and lonely even when surrounded by my closest friends; lacking my usual lustre, my demeanour was grey and unapproachable. There were times when I decided the best thing for me to do was to avoid pretty much everyone and try and wait for these new feelings to fade.They didn’t.

The most annoying part of dealing with stress was how it affected my creative mind. Anxiety caused me to disregard every idea that popped into my head, fearing failure and the judgement of others. I would write something, delete it, write something and then delete it again; with that process continuing almost daily. My first real bout with writer’s block. To a young creative, ones ability to create is a much cherished gift and being in a situation where you feel like you’ve lost that gift is almost heartbreaking. You find yourself asking, what will I do now? Especially when you’ll be out of University and into the real world in just over a year. Of course that was just me being dramatic but I guess that’s just what overthinking does, right?

Conquering stress was pretty simple when I finally figured out how to do it. Going back through my safari search history, it’s quite funny seeing it full of phrases like: “How do I get rid of stress?”, “Stressed out, help!”,“Stress treatments?” etc etc. The answer that continuously came up was to simply relax. ‘Relax’ or ‘Relaxation’ is an extremely broad term, if you look in an Oxford Dictionary, it describes it as simply being “the state of being free from tension and anxiety”. So how does that help? I thought the same thing too. The sites suggested things like exercising or doing something fun, but none of those really worked for me, as I was still confused as to what I was actually meant to do. Overthinking made me think of literally every possible way of relaxation I could think of, until one day it hit me… What if I just stop thinking? Block out all the thoughts swirling around in my head. The best way for me to do that was to fill my head with something else. I chose music, more specifically alternative R&B due to its mellow sound. That might sound somewhat weird but hey, everyone deals with things differently. Digesting the lyrics and drifting along to the calming production of the music really helped centre my mind and forget about all the worries of my student life. Focusing on one thing rather than everything really helped level my thoughts. After days locked in my own personal cage (my room) with nothing but music to soothe me, I found my head was much clearer and was starting to feel like myself again. With the music, I had to focus on the song that was currently playing to further understand the concept of the album. I feel with issues that I face myself in real life I can now go about it the same way, focus on the one thing that needs to be done now and like the next song in a playlist, focus on the next issue when the one you’re working on is complete.

Stress can be a very scary thing. It can pretty much stem from anything and everything. At times it can come in small packages and other times it can come in big waves. I’m not going to lie to you and say you can avoid it completely because that’s unrealistic; but you can definitely find ways to deal with it. The ways are different for everybody it depends on the type of person you are. If you’re like me: take a break, listen to music and wait until you’re ready to deal with the complexities of life.