How have I been powering through the most stressful time of the year?

My friend texted me that she was off to bed and would finish the rest of the project tomorrow. She also reminded me, “Make sure you get some sleep too! Most important thing during stressful times of the semester!” It suddenly hit me that yes, recently I don’t go to bed before 3 o’clock in the morning and wake up after 7:30 o’clock. It means on average I sleep only four to five hours per day, work straight from I wake up until I go to sleep … and I still survive lol.

How can I juggle three jobs with almost 30 hours per week, one remote internship, five group projects due at the same time, trainings for the upcoming event at school, at least 30 – 60 minutes per day talking with my family and friends back to Vietnam over the phone, cookings and thousands of untitled things while still maintaining good grades at school? I’m also the person who does not know how to say “No”, I’m very bad at it, I will take on everything that I think I can when people ask me … doing some more work, covering shifts, helping my friends, etc.

Here is my April’s calendar. This calendar doesn’t include all of my work schedules, just only a small portion of it.

Ok. Hold on. Let’s get it straight. I don’t intend to brag about myself on this blog post because like many people, I’m just a student/ a part-time employee and I have been trying to manage my time and finish my endless to-do-list on time. The purpose of this post is to share with you what I have been doing to power through the most stressful time of the year and give you some motivations. If you have some useful tips, please share. I’m more than happy to try new things to be more productive and efficient.

1. HAVE BREAKFAST

I know it’s very cliche’ to say that, but a good breakfast provides you great energy to start your day. Especially when you’re deprived of sleep, your body needs another type of energy to make up for sleep, and food is a good source of energy. No sleep + No food = death. More research has been done and has recognized the value of breakfast, and I don’t think I need to say more here.

I’m sometimes too busy to have breakfast, and by noon, I often have a stomachache, can’t concentrate on doing anything and start being cranky at people.

My favorite breakfast is granola, yogurt, apple, coconut and one spoon of peanut butter. It’s very easy to prepare. You put everything in a mason jar, mix it up and bring it with you to school/ work.

2.  DRINK WATER

I drink at least two liters of water every day because it keeps me hydrated and … awake. The more water I take in, the more I have to go to pee … that’s why the longer I’m awake. Also, like many women, I’m scared of seeing my skin aging, drying, breaking out and appearing wrinkles and dark circles under eyes. During the stressful time, I don’t have time to do skincare so the only best way that I can treat my skin is to drink a lot of water. #loveyourself #loveyourskin

NOTE: Coffee and caffeinated tea are not water!!! They even make you more dehydrated. I don’t drink caffeine. I could be awake forever with even a small amount of caffeine. And now even without coffee, I already can stay up straight for 20 hours per day. So don’t laugh at me if I go to a coffee shop and order a decaf latte. But you still can invite me to a coffee shop because I drink (non-caffeinated) green tea. There’s nothing cozier and more relaxing by having a warm cup of tea beside when I’m working. Also, green tea has a lot of benefits such as increasing the productivity of your brain and physical performance. Next time, instead of having a cup of coffee for your day, let’s try a cup of green tea and see the difference. 😉

My favorite tea recently is the Lipton Lemon Ginger Green Tea – it’s very subtle and calming. A box of 72 bags only costs around $5.00 – $6.00 on Amazon.

3. WORKOUT

You might be asking me, “Are you kidding? You don’t even have time to sleep, but you have time to go to the gym? Are you crazy?” – I’m not or maybe I’m crazy but I don’t know …

I often have a two to three hours break between classes or jobs. Spending the whole time on browsing facebook or doing homework makes my eyes worse because they are already exhausted by sleep deprivations and the huge number of letters I’ve seen from the previous office job/ class so they definitely deserve a break. Also, there is no a quiet place for me to sleep at school; actually, they do have a nap room but I don’t feel comfortable going there and sleeping there. How can you sleep in the public, dude? Rather than sit in a place and moan how tired I’m, I schedule a specific time in my calendar for the gym. Sometimes, it’s just 30 minutes running or walking on the treadmill. I set a clear goal in my mind that I go to the gym not to get muscles, big boobs, and wide hips, but to get away from the hectic life for a moment and practice my patience. It’s hard to get motivated to go to the gym, I know but once, I get on the treadmill see a number of calories I burn is increasing, I just want to run more and more. It makes me sweat, de-stress my brain, increase my heart beat and relieve my anxiety by releasing endorphins and powerful chemicals. When I get stuck with ideas for papers, I go to the gym, refresh my brain and come back for that later.

I really encourage you guys to go to the gym or do some exercises at home every day or at least three times a week. You’re gonna feel so much better! Trust me, it’s hard at the beginning but once it becomes a habit, you are gonna miss it so much. This week, all of my breaks are filled with training and shift coverings so I haven’t got a time go to the gym, and my body is screaming inside and FAT is ACCUMULATING. It stresses me out, too.

4. MEDITATE

I’m not good at meditating and still learning.

Recently, besides the overload of work, a few random things happened and caused me some mental issues. I couldn’t sleep and my brain couldn’t stop thinking about those things. You guys might have the same things as mine. When I stay up too late crossing my sleep time, I can’t fall into sleep even though my eyes are so tired that they can’t even stay open. My physical body wanted to sleep but my mental body still wanted to play. It’s insane!!!!!! In those situations, I have to do some meditations on my bed. What I often do is to focus on my breaths. I breathe in and breathe out as naturally, and pay attention to the movement of every inhalation and exhalation. Sometimes, I get distracted and my mind wanders somewhere. Then, I have to immediately return my focus back to the breath and repeat the process again. Usually, it takes me around five minutes to fall into sleep.

Because of those random things mentioned above that made me upset and depressed, the practice of meditation helped me ease my pain in my heart to live a mindful life and enjoy the moment. My school has a large pond and it’s very beautiful in the spring. After going to the gym, on the way back to the office, I often go to the lake, sit on the bench and try to meditate for a couple minutes. During the meditation, I feel the breeze crossing my face, leaves rustling, geese chatting, and people walking by, etc. It came to my realization that why I need to look for happiness somewhere else while it’s right here, inside my heart, inside my brain. Happiness is what and how you perceive the world and yourself. Your attitude matters. The feeling is as always very relaxing and calming.

Meditation is not easy because we’re humans – we are thinking animals. It’s difficult to shut down our thoughts because there are too many things happening in our life that distract us very easily. Meditation needs practice. If you are new beginners for meditation like me, just start by closing your eyes and focusing on the movement of your breath for two to three minutes every day. You will get out of this fast-paced life and learn what truly makes you happy, especially during those busy times. 🙂

5. WHAT MAKES YOU MOTIVATED TO WAKE UP AND WORK EVERYDAY?

Last but not least, I would not be able to do all of the things I mentioned above without motivation and passion. Don’t think “motivation” and “passion” as something very big. They are very simple.

When I start writing a paper, I always ask myself, “What do I want to get out of from finishing this paper?” Always ask yourself why you do this, why you do that, and think about the positive outcomes that excite you.

For example, yesterday, I was working on a 5000-word paper about Cuba in terms of economy, politics, business ethics, cultures, human rights, etc. This paper was a group project and it accounted for a large percent of my final grade. I’ve always wanted to travel to Cuba so I thought that writing this paper would give me more ideas about traveling in Cuba as well as learn more about its history. I was very excited to do research and find interesting facts about Cuba, and thus, didn’t feel stressed writing the paper.

Try to think positively and relate what you have to do to what you personally love, because

when you do what you love, you don’t have to work a day in your life.

It’s like now I stay up late to write this blog post because I’m very passionate and want to share some tips that have helped me survive this busy time of the year. I hope you can find my tips useful, and learn how to take care of your mental health, maximize your time and optimize your ability.

Don’t stress out. Remember to take a deep breath and everything’s gonna be fine. You’re doing a great job! 🙂

——-

Photo: Internet and me 🙂

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