Deadlines and panic attacks

Slow down and smell the coffee

My chest tightens and lungs spasm like I can’t breathe. I try to take a breath while I hear my heartbeat in my ears. My hands sweat as the room swims around me. All I can do is ride out the storm when a panic attack hits me like a freight train. Unfortunately for me, one of my main stressors is school.

Deadlines are the worst thing imaginable. Yes, that is a hyperbole but when I wake up from a dream about me failing my high school science class, which I passed four years ago, I get a little stressed out. I’ve always stressed myself out about my classes and grades, and that hasn’t changed ever since I came to college. The funny thing is that college is the easy part, everything that comes after is hard.

I was always taught by my parents to treat my education like a full-time job. I’ve always taken that to heart, so when my anxiety strikes, I feel like a failure that can’t do anything right. I’m the type of person who is extremely competitive and perceived shortcomings on my end are hard to reconcile. I want to be the best at whatever I do, and working on all cylinders all the time is exhausting. I know I’m not alone in my feelings.

It’s time to stop and smell the coffee. Taking a break isn’t a bad thing and I know a lot of us need the reminder as we finish up the semester. We cannot continue to drain our energy by ignoring what our bodies say. I know that 10-page paper due in class looks intimidating but you

can do better work when you nourish your brain. Take a step away from your laptop. Take 10 minutes to sip on your coffee and enjoy fresh air before the busy day begins.

Taking the time to care for your needs isn’t a cop out. Recognizing when it’s time to care for yourself shows you are in tune with your body and soul. Our life is one of constant con- nection. What we all need to realize is that our worth is not measured by our productivity. Self-care is not weakness, and it isn’t the end of the world if we have to take a break. I struggle with this notion because I jump from project to project constant- ly. This isn’t sustainable and I know that. Creating new habits takes time and focus. I know I can do better for myself, and I know that you can too.

When that deadline creeps up, don’t panic. You are made of stardust and iron and no one can get in your way. Take the time to gain some perspective and do what is right for your body. It might seem like an impossible task but taking a break recharges your batteries so that you can conquer that mountain of homework without it taking over your life.