Zen and the Art of Feeling Zen

I am the Zen Master. When I think about my life,  school, work, family, friends, money, the future and so on, I have EVERY RIGHT TO FREAK OUT!! But I don’t. How, you ask?

To be honest, I do freak out a lot. But I know there are better ways of dealing with stress if I would just put them into practice. Here are some (in no particular order) that could help out at this particularly stressful time of year, what with exams, papers, Christmas plans, Christmas spending and so on.

1. Sweat, Don’t Stress
You can’t think too hard when you’re in the middle of an intensive exercise regime. So when the old brain starts thinking in circles, go for a run, skip rope, go swimming, whatever will get your mind off the abstract and onto the physical to give yourself a break from stress.

2. Be Funny!
It’s been shown that people who use humour to cover up their true feelings . . . are actually fairly mentally healthy! (Refer to an intro psych text if you are curious about this). Try to see the funny side of the situation. “Today during my English presentation I said ‘He saw his father in the buff for the first time’ instead of ‘He saw his father in the flesh for the first time’.” Embarrassing? Maybe. Hilarious? Definitely. (That actually is a slip up I once made!)

3. Lean On Me
If you’ve got friends stressing out about the same things, get together and have a group therapy session, just freaking out. It may be that someone else’s problems are worse and you can thank your lucky stars you aren’t them. That sounds a bit jerkish, but it can help. Just don’t go overboard into a massive all-night pity party that leaves you more upset than before. Commiserate, then move on.

4. Do some deep-breathing/muscle relaxation.
This is supposed to help bring the physiological symptoms of stress down, thereby eliminating the feelings that go with them. Here’s how to do it: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTCS_05.htm

5. Put It In Perspective
It might seem like your woes are insurmountable, but really, when you’re 80 years old are they going to seem that important? Look back on them from the perspective of somebody who has lived a full life. Maybe they’re not so bad in the grand scheme of things.

BUT IF THEY ARE . . . if you are close to a nervous breakdown and really feel that the stress in your life is too much to handle . . . go see somebody for help. The counsellors in Student Success Services (Rm 1402) are free and can help you out.


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