Weird as it may sound, studying may have been the best thing that has happened to me in life so far. As much as there are times I want to throw in the towel and quit, times I feel I can’t handle the stress and wish it could all be over – I truly enjoy studying. I love knowing that I’m furthering my dreams, I love learning new things, I enjoy spending time with my classmates. So although it isn’t easy, I definitely don’t regret it.
Of course, along with all the good things that come with studying, there are also a lot of added pressures involved – deadlines, seemingly unending quizzez, tests and exams and a whole lot of stress. Sometimes things get so crazy that there’s hardly time for anything else. And this is balancing recovery with studying becomes an issue.
Recovery is an ongoing process, at least for me. Although I’m millions of miles further then I used to be, I can safely say I still struggle at times. Particularly during times of extreme stress or pressure – it becomes hard to keep up the positive attitudes and mindsets I’ve fought so hard to attain. Old coping mechanisms seem so desirable during those times, because they provide me with a (false) sense of security and stability.
Some days I’m too tired to deal with those voices in my head, along with the stress and will power it takes to keep studying. Some days I feel I’m too busy to stop and grab something decent to eat, it’s much easier just to ignore those hunger pangs and keep doing what I’m doing. Some days I feel like a failure, and I want to punish myself in some way. And although all these negative feeling and emotions I described aren’t a regular part of my life, that doesn’t keep them from popping up from time to time.
Unfortunately, I still haven’t found a “quick fix” solution for these kinds of struggles. Each day is different, each situation is different, and my ability to cope with these emotions also differs. Sometimes recognizing them for what they are and blocking them out of my mind is easy, other days I find myself crumpled in a heap on the floor, praying for the strength to deal with them. However, through trial and error, I have found a few ways of combating these negative thoughts when they come up.
- From a practical point of view, although choosing not to eat may be convenient in the short term, I’m actually limiting my ability to effectively study and learn. Hunger definitely does NOT aid concentration, and trying to control my food intake only leads to obsessive thoughts that slowly take over my mind. I find it’s easier to just “do the right thing” right away and fuel myself properly on a day to day basis, then develop distructive habits that take much more time and effort to break.
- Recognizing when my ED thoughts are a result of stress. Then I do things to “de-stress” – I call my family, take a break, go for a walk, take a hot shower. Generally stopping and focusing on the cause of these thoughts, rather then on the thoughts themselves helps me know how to deal with them most effectively.
- Allowing myself not to be perfect. I think this is the harder thing for me, because I’m the type of person that wants to do everything right the first time. I want to always be the best, push myself the hardest and be good at everything I do. Then when things don’t work out according to plan, I feel the need to “punish” myself for not trying hard enough. This is when I have to remember all the people in my life who love me for who I am, not what I do; and focus more on that then my day to day accomplishments and (in some cases) disappointments.
- Choosing not to obsess over my studies. Some times I get so caught up in the “study culture” that I forget there’s life beyond the walls of my dorm and university. There are other hobbies I enjoy, other things that make me who I am. When I get obsessive about something I can’t control, I transfer that desire for control onto other areas of my life. And when you have a history like mine, this is something I have to be careful about.
- Enjoy life! Life is beautiful and meant to be lived, not survived. When I choose to treat every day as the beginning of a new adventure – wonderful things usually happen.
Do you find it easy to balance different areas of your life? Or are you like me and tend to focus on one thing and be obsessive about it? If so, do you have any safeguards to keep yourself in check?
(And when all else fails – think of this:)