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Grades don’t kill people; stress kills people

By Sarah Eckrich
Staff Writer

February 7, 2013

If you’re operating in these first two weeks of the semester without an ounce of stress or obligation, you’re part of a lucky minority. I’ve lost count of how many people have commiserated with me lately about their immense workloads in school, losing hours at their jobs, and different disasters in their personal lives. The demons of bad juju seem to have their claws firmly entrenched in the entire student body this time around. I can’t tell you why this semester is worse than most, but I can tell you how to fight back against things that try to undermine your sense of security and happiness.

Addicts in twelve-step programs are told to give things over to a higher power. Raised by a minister, I was taught that this higher power was God, and taught to seek my refuge in prayer. That never really assuaged me fully, but it did help to teach me that I can’t control everything. Whether you call the thing that orchestrates those circumstances God, or fate, or chance, or just life, the lesson is the same: you have to know how and when to just let go, or else fear and worry will crush you.

I did retain one Bible verse from my Christian upbringing that has continually helped the logical side of my brain to let go once worry has turned from being productive to destructive: Matthew 6:27 says something to the effect of, “And who of you by worrying can say he has added even an hour to the measure of his life?” Translation: is what you’re worrying about able to help fix your problem or increase your quality of life? If it’s not, let it go and move on to something else.

We have to worry about some things. If you don’t worry about a test, you probably won’t study, and then you’ll get a bad grade. That will create more stress and problems that are harder to reverse. The key is to know when your stress is helping you, and when it’s hurting you. If you can do something to change your situation, do it. If you can’t, then fixating on it is only taking away from other things in life.

Just as important, and hard for anyone like me to do, is learning to accept that we can’t control everything. We only have control over how we react to situations. Try to take the good and the bad in stride, and leave the rest to whatever governing force you know. Have a cold beer (if you’re of age, of course) and play some music that puts you in the zone. Be proactive when you can, and release the rest.

After all, everything always works out one way or another in the long run. Even if it doesn’t resolve itself how we want, we live another day. That principle holds true until the day we die, and I don’t imagine the dead worry about much.

Sarah Eckrich is a sophomore majoring in English Writing with a minor in Environmental Studies. She can be contacted at seckrich@lhup.edu.

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