31 Jul The Pitfalls of Using “Getting By” as a Coping Strategy
We all know that the best medicine is preventative. It’s better to be proactive than reactive. Taking steps to avoid obstacles is easier, and more pleasant, than tripping over them. In short, procrastination never did us any good.
This could not be truer when it comes to mental health. I’ve learned the hard way that I’m happier, healthier, calmer, and more secure when I’m proactive about my wellness – when I take the right steps to turn that dial to simmer. When I’m reactive about my wellness, on the other hand, I tend to explode like a hot mess of a volcano.
Procrastinating your wellness, my friends, is what we know as the act of getting by, a commonly exercised “coping mechanism” amongst us students.
I’m familiar with what “getting by” feels like, but I had a hard time putting that experience into words. So, I did what any confused person would do and searched it up on Google Dictionary.
Getting by means managing, with difficulty, to live or accomplish something (if you’re interested, synonyms include: managing, coping, surviving, muddling along, etc.).
At university, we’re used to operating at a high level of stress. A little stress can be good (one of my favourite quotes from a friend at Queen’s is “fear is my catalyst”), but little stressors can accumulate if you don’t take the proper steps to release some steam from the pressure cooker, so to speak. Tip-toeing around your breaking point will ultimately result in just that: a breaking point (and we all know what that feels like – an utterly awful suckfest).
As students we have priorities, a lot of “gottas.” I gotta get this essay done, I gotta finish this lab, I gotta get my hours in, I gotta finish this chapter, I gotta go to office hours – the list goes on. But I’m here to tell you that you gotta take care of YOURSELF, and that should be a priority (I think I’ve read one too many self-help books this summer, I’m starting to sound like a life coach).
We take time to ourselves when there’s time for it, which is next to never. There’s never enough time in university, so you have to make a conscious effort to make time for what matters: your wellness. I think I speak for all of us when I say that sanity matters, right? I don’t know, it might just be me, but I like to avoid suckfests as much as I can.
Self-care can take a lot of different forms and it looks different to everybody, so I’m not here to debate about whether or not using a facemask and taking a bubble bath counts as self-care. That stuff works for me. I’m just saying that you gotta make time for whatever self-care “stuff” works for you too (lest you explode like a hot mess of a volcano).
Be the one to inspire this attitude in your friends, too! Take a megaphone to your house and say to your housemates, “Listen up binches. SCREW OUR RESPONSIBILITIES!!! WE’RE GOING TO MUCHO BURRITO AND THEN WE’RE GOING TO SEE THAT NEW QUENTIN TARANTINO MOVIE!!!” or something like that. Whatever your collective stress reliever may be – going to the pier with blankets and a bottle of wine, having a house dinner, #balling at the ARC basketball court – make time for it.
“Getting by” – ignoring the signs that you need a break, pushing through for the sake of getting an A grade instead of just taking the damn B, or staying up late to finish some work despite feeling exhausted – will ultimately result in some sort of breakdown. You don’t have to wait until you reach your breaking point to make time for wellness. You shouldn’t take care of yourself on an as-needed basis when you require care, because you ALWAYS require care, honey. (O.K. Dev, lay off the self-help books, seriously…)
If you’re starting to feel like life’s been one hot pressure cooker lately, do something to release the steam. Take time for some “preventative medicine,” whatever that is. It might save you from experiencing a lot of stress in the long run!
Header Image Credit: California to Hawaii cruise brochure art. Huntington Library (1970)