Break down stress

For me, many seemingly mundane occurrences are more stressful than they are for other people, and more stressful than they need to be. As someone who has been dealing with anxiety on and off since junior high, getting nervous about a presentation or even showing up to class can keep me from leaving the house at all. Rather than simply skipping class and leisurely sleeping in, I am curled up in the fetal position with my heart racing or my head pounding, convinced that I am actually going to die.

Step one for climbing out of this hole: take a break. If you’re trying to do five things at once, and freaking out because you can’t get them all done, stop trying to do any of them for about 20 seconds. Next, talk yourself through what you’re so worried about. Generally, stressing out about something involves an inner-monologue that starts with a minor thing messing up and ends with a major catastrophe, but you’re not sure what happened in the middle.

The best way to get through this one is to imagine the scenario that makes you nervous (to put it mildly), and predict what would reasonably happen — how people would react, what would happen after that reaction, and so on — and see how far off the end of your story is from the heart-wrenching catastrophe that worried you so much 45 seconds ago. After that, make a plan. Start by creating a list of what you need to do most — writing it down helps, as does writing it in the order that things are due. Once you’ve created your list, start at the top and break it down; you can’t do everything at once, but you can do a lot.

When all else fails, remember that no one is perfect, so if someone expects you to be everything to everyone, give yourself a break. You’ll be fine.