Welcome back from spring break! I hope you had a great time away from school – or at least schoolwork. And welcome to the second half of the semester, where schoolwork, and life, start to feel a bit more challenging.

This week, I want to share something I learned last year from an amazing book called “Burnout” by Emily and Amelia Nagoski. “Burnout” is a book about stress, how it affects our bodies, and how we can more effectively deal with it. In the very first chapter, Emily and Amelia drop a big statement that felt revolutionary to me: 

Just because you’ve dealt with a stressor doesn’t mean you’ve dealt with the stress itself.

Stressors and stress aren’t the same thing. Stressors are things like midterms, projects, conflicts with roommates, hard decisions, and overbearing moms. Stress is what happens to your body because of these things.

You probably know how to deal with stressors: study for the test, finish the project, talk to (or avoid) your roommate, hard decision, or mom.  

But dealing with stress is a totally different animal. Solving problems doesn’t fix stress. Your body requires you to go through a particular physiological process in order to deal with stress. Luckily, Emily and Amelia give us a list of 7 go-to ways to deal complete the stress cycle:

  1. Move your body. When humans evolved, running was the way we dealt with stress. We ran away from predators and to a place of safety. Luckily you don’t have to outrun a lion or complete a marathon to deal with stress. Just move your body in whatever way you find enjoyable. My favorite two ways to move my body when stressed out are to take a brisk walk outside or put on some music and have a 10 minute private dance party. The authors stress that this is the very best way to deal with stress. But there are six other options as well.
  2. Breathe. Take a few deep breaths, paying attention to your body as you do so.
  3. Positive social interaction. Have a casual conversation, even with a stranger. 
  4. Laughter. Listen to or watch something that you know will make you laugh out loud.
  5. A big ol cry. When I need to cry, I like to watch the first 20 minutes of the Pixar movie Up.
  6. Affection. Emily and Amelia recommend a 20 second hug. Which is an awkwardly long hug. But it works.
  7. Creative expression. Make something: cook, knit, draw, play or sing music, etc.

How will you know if it works? Your body will tell you. This is really the most important thing. You don’t tell your body that you’re done being stressed. Your body tells you, when your breathing gets deeper, your heart rate slows down, or you let out a big sigh.

If you need to deal with stress (and who doesn’t), stop by the LCM kitchen on Thursday at 1pm. LCM Staff, Kenzie, will be doing some stressbaking. There will be creative expression, positive social interaction, and probably some laughter too. Not to mention delicious treats. All to help your body deal with some of the stress of this time of the semester. Take care of yourself.