How to Deal With Stress When Your Life’s in the Shitter

Mental Squeeze Column

Graphic Madeleine Gendreau

If anyone knows about how stressful life can get, it’s university students. Most of us are young (maybe even too young) to be making big life decisions, yet here we are, doing exactly that. The older generation tells us, “Choose a career. Find out how to pay for all of it. Choose roommates. Get good grades. Don’t fuck it up. Do you know what you’re doing? No? Too bad.”

Okay, so maybe I’m being too harsh—most of our parents want to see us succeed and are hopefully pretty encouraging, but goddamn if we don’t feel the weight of the world on our shoulders every once in a while.

Doing a quick Google search on stress management will give you a plethora of self-help websites that guarantee a sure and effective way to deal with stress in ten easy steps! tells me to reduce caffeine and sugar—like that’s going to happen—and WebMD tells me too much stress can lead to cancer, as if I need that thrown in my face again.

So I started to ask my fellow students for answers. What did they do when they felt like their life had been thrown down the metaphorical shitter? The answers I got were actually pretty enlightening.

The big one is to just breathe. Sound cliché? It is, but it’s also effective. When your world feels like it’s turning upside down, whether from school, financial, or personal problems, just remember that it’s not. Slow down, take a deep breath and chill out. Dale Carnegie, in his famous self-help book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, suggests three rules to follow when shit hits the fan:

“Slow down, take a deep breath and chill out.”

1. Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can possibly happen if I don’t solve my problem?”
2. Prepare yourself mentally to accept the worst.
3. Calmly try to improve on the worst—which you have already imagined and accepted.

When my life was turned upside down, this book helped save me. Accepting the worst is no easy task, but once you do, you’ll find that it isn’t actually as horrible as it sounds. Allowing yourself to make the worst-case scenario into a monster is probably doing more damage to your psyche than the end result ever could. Once you’ve identified and accepted this stressor, there are ways that you can begin to manage and overcome it. You could take a hot bath, get your nervous energy out by hitting the gym, take a nap, meditate, have sex (or go solo and masturbate), or even get a massage.

The suggestions above may only get you so far, so you just have to remember, “Can I accept the worst that can possibly happen?”

If you’re having trouble doing that, remember that Concordia Health Services offers counseling with professionals who can help you develop stress management strategies.
Dealing with life can be pretty tough sometimes; don’t let stress get the best of you! You’re in charge, and you have the tools to help yourself succeed. So keep calm, carry on and listen to Dale Carnegie.

Concordia Counselling and Psychological Services can be found in room H-440 on the SGW Campus, or AD-103 on the Loyola Campus.