If you asked how my quarter would end up eight weeks ago, I would have said, “I’ll be fine. I’m just taking three classes. It won’t be that stressful.”
Now, as the quarter reaches its final moments, the last two weeks have seemed scrunched, and yes, I feel strained. But I’ve found that when we reach one limit, we need to lower another. This is where the bad habits – not getting enough sleep, drinking too much caffeine, skipping the gym – become not so bad. They are temporary and necessary for balancing our spectrum of stress. I don’t like deviating from a somewhat disciplined schedule, but I’ve realized this is entirely okay, and perhaps even beneficial. As students, we are constantly thrown into a balancing act.
Everyone I’ve met at Stanford has priorities outside of their school work, and while staying healthy and keeping up good routines are generally significant, slipping for a temporary amount of time is allowed. On a limited basis, staying carefree about drinking coffee late at night and missing the gym is just as important as keeping up with the beneficial behavior.
We only have so many hours in the day to accomplish what we can. We are, by extension, always limited. Within these borders, we have to make choices, but don’t let them be tough. If you are craving a chocolate muffin early in the morning after a few hours of sleep, take a bite. The sugar might make you feel better, or it might not. That’s up to you.
But the chocolate won’t be as bad for you as the mental diatribe that would follow should you second-guess yourself. During stressful times, it’s better to focus on your top priorities because there will be another day for everything else.
I tell myself that any change I make that is seemingly for the worse isn’t permanent. I can make a different choice the next day. As for my final papers, those due dates are set in ink. But the quarter will certainly end, and I’ll probably think of this time fondly if you ask me about it a month from now. As I’ve experienced before, those longer nights and heavier meals for the sake of indulging myself during a busy day leave a sweetness despite the stress. It’s sweet because I’m accomplishing something, and the rest, well, I’m just not worried about it.
Contact Courtney Clayton at cclayton ‘at’ stanford.edu.