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Live "Stress" Free

I firmly believe that we have the power to shape the world we live in, or to shape our mind at the least. I believe that one of the ways that we manifest this power is the words we use every day. When I hear positive affirmations, I’m inclined to feel and do better in my daily life. As J.K. Rowling said, “words are our most inexhaustible source of magic.”

On college campuses, there seems to be a common rhetoric of trying to “one-up” someone’s struggles. When one friend says that they are so tired and have only slept 5 hours, the immediate response is to reply that you only slept for 4 hours. There is a need for pity and sympathy and an interesting obsession with verbalizing how much our lives are falling apart. During these conversations, a word that seems to come up time and again is “stress.” Words have the power to initiate action, but the word “stress” is ambiguous- it doesn’t give anyone any type of solution. It doesn’t push for any specific action but rather just hangs in the air and in our minds.

I stopped using the word “stress” about a year ago, and I have seen a huge shift in my mindset. This doesn’t mean that I don’t get worried or freaked out about school and life in general, but I make the conscious choice to use different words to describe how I’m feeling, ones that frame the situation in a way that motivate me to take action. For instance, instead of saying “I’m stressed” I’ll say “I’m overwhelmed.” This indicates that I have too many commitments and that my time isn’t planned out well. It allows me to think critically about my time management and gives me something to work on specifically. Another thing I find myself saying is “I’m worried” and the immediate follow up question is “what am I worried about?” This way I think about the specific thing or things that are worrying me instead of seeing the situation as a monster I can’t conquer. A lot of what causes stress is inaction and procrastination. Alternate words help by prompting action, and action creates energy.

“Stress” is only one word in a dictionary full of words, but eliminating it from my daily language is something that I have found to be a powerful way of redesigning my world. I have the power to select how I view my situation and how I react to it. We are in a difficult stage of our lives as undergraduate women in STEM, but if we slowly change the way we see our situation, we can take control of our lives, one day at a time.

“Ladies, stress shows on your face. Happiness is the true beauty weapon."

-Susan Sarandon

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