As third-year students, stress is rife for all, but people deal with stress in very different ways.
Some people thrive off stress and find it a motivational factor to drive them forward. Others don’t get stressed out and let it wash over them. Or there are people like me, who cannot deal with it in the slightest. I mean, I bloody crumble.
Everyone gets stressed
There is a great debate as to how much stress can be considered an issue of mental health. Surely it is something that everyone deals with, right? Everyone gets stressed, not every one deals with depression, or bipolar – illnesses which are a chemical imbalance or due to extenuating circumstances.
Well I beg to differ. Stress management impacts my life on a day-to-day basis and sometimes consumes and dictates my whole day. The pressure sends me into a spiral – I can’t see a way out.
Cue tears, copious phone calls to my mum, chain smoking and possibly the worst consequence: compulsive tendencies to try to control everything else in my life. So yes, stress which leads to some kind of OCD I would consider to impact my mental health.
I made an appointment with the counsellor
I guess you’re all thinking, oh boohoo. BOO BLOODY HOO, you can’t deal with the stuff that normal people can. Get a grip. And what the f**k has that got to do with arts and culture? Give me a theatre review already!
Once I had established that getting slightly lost for five minutes doesn’t warrant crying, and disintegrating in the office over a tax rebate doesn’t either, I got my arse in gear. I made an appointment with a counsellor at the KCL Health Centre. My counselling sessions have really helped me out.
Working with my counsellor, I have identified that what I’m crap at is doing nothing. I’ve been signed up for ‘mindfulness’ classes to create a blank mind and relaxing start to the day. I need to be able to do things independently, things that are outside of a working environment.
Therefore, I am advocating for arts and culture as a way out of stress. When shit piles up, getting myself out to go and see some culture is a great way of alleviating and forgetting about everything that is piling up on my intense to do list.
Go out and see some culture
I can, in some kind of pseudo-Freudian way, project my own shitty, stressy life into what I’m looking at. The best thing is comedy: Micky Flanagan’s tour at the O2 was a three hour window where the amount of work I had to do could be ignored. I can be absorbed into someone else’s life and experiences.
So, get out and see some culture. Dissertation reading piling up? Fuck it. Go and get a fiver ticket for the Globe. Don’t know what you’re going to do after you graduate? Put it off, and go to the V&A and have a look round the exhibits. Broken up with the boyfriend? Well, have a little cry and then hop on the tube to Covent Garden and see an opera.
Get out. See something different. Let someone else’s problems be more interesting than yours, even if just for a few hours. And if you’re still struggling, make an appointment with the KCL Counselling Service – they have helped me no end.