MAPH Central has banded together herein to offer you some of our favorite stress management techniques! Heed them well, for they are marked with the psychic scar tissue of those who have endured the Coming Winter.
Get Out of Hyde Park (and off of Facebook) by Chrissy “McKnuckles” McKeon
Chrissy’s Humpty Dumpty Thesis
I cannot stress enough how important this was to my sanity. I made a commitment to myself to venture out of this UChicago infused bubble at least once a week. And if I felt like I didn’t have enough time, I did it anyway. I packed up my school bag and toted my laptop and school books around Wicker Park and Logan Square, settled into coffee shops (and yes, sometimes bars) to do my work. I just found it easier to work in places that were decidedly lacking in the brand of stress that on-campus study spaces were always teeming with. I found that commuting somewhere to do schoolwork actually made me more productive. When I was so far away from home, I was less likely to call it quits before I had gotten something substantial done. See that picture of my thesis draft cut into teeny tiny pieces? Yea, I did that at a little coffee shop called The Wormhole. In public. People must have thought I was nuts. I know it seems strange to say that I destressed by doing work, but finding a way to do productive work – a way that worked for my particular learning style – ensured that I was able to find time to do other things besides schoolwork. Leaving Hyde Park also meant that I made friends outside of MAPH – A.K.A. people who weren’t always talking about class and work, even when we were at The Cove.
Speaking of people who are always talking about class and work, get off of Facebook, for the love of some-non-denominational-higher-being. As I have mentioned, this was important for me. Some people deal with stress by blabbing about it on the Internet, and for me, this was majorly anxiety-producing. My newsfeed became a constant source of stress, especially when people started posting about classes, papers and deadlines (or worse, bragging about the 20 pages of their thesis that they had written. On a Saturday night. Three months before our theses were due). So, I just deactivated my account for awhile. It was unbelievably liberating. You should try it sometime.
Do Something Crafty by Sarah “Ernesto” Smith
Near the end of the quarter when you are spending so much time in your head, you might consider doing something with your hands! I find knitting and crocheting to be especially soothing. The repetitive motion of the clicking needles helps clear my head when it gets too full of The Academy. You might also appreciate the physicalness of textile creation during a time when you are spending mammoth amounts of mental and emotional energy on a (at times terrifyingly insubstantial) electronic document. Creating something with your hands brings you closer to your labor – Marx approved – and also makes lovely, cheap holiday presents.
Read for Pleasure and Take a Walk by Bill “Bobaggins” Hutchison
You don’t have time to read for pleasure, right? Or to take a walk? But I promise that if you set aside some nominal amount of time every day – ten minutes, say – for pleasure reading, you will be so much better for it. There are some crucial rules, however. Don’t read something because it might also be useful for your class/thesis/school related thing. Don’t engage in self-deception by saying, “But reading Zizek is pleasure reading for me!” We’re all nerds, we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t love reading this stuff. But you and I both know what true pleasure reading is. It’s snuggle-up-with-a-good-book reading. You know exactly what I mean.
And for the love of all things, go outside and move your body a little! I often need a reminder that my body is more than a transport system for my brain. A walk outside when your brain is overfilled with names, dates, notions, theories, and competing philosophies will do you good. Look! A happy squirrel! And over there, a crow dropping stones on undergraduates! Yes, it’s cold. Yes, there will soon be snow. But as you see your breath puffing out before you and hear your feet crunch-crunch-crunch along the salted sidewalk, you will remember that you are a sensate, embodied being, and that sometimes that feels unbelievably good.