“In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.”― Fred Rogers, The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember
This semester I asked myself the question:
Where is my angst located in my body?
And the answers I received and revelations I discovered were only possible from the questions asked. It was something new to pay such deep attention to my body and where my worry accumulated.
As I have moved through this semester, I have found myself losing touch and regaining it when it comes to relating with others and stress. I have begun focusing on where stress is located on in my body, and how I have found ways to release this stress – and also where my body responds when I feel joy. So, for this particular section, I am going to be very open and vulnerable as I detail where I felt worry and slight background on that worry. A timeline:
Before arriving at Davidson: I felt angst in my stomach, heat behind my eyes, and jitters in my fingertips. The angst came from thinking about leaving my home—the place I felt most comfortable. I felt heat behind my eyes, preparing for the inevitable tears that came on the way to Davidson and in the first few days on campus. My fingertips felt like electricity: energized from nerves and excitement for all that was to come of this new endeavor.
When I found myself eased after a week or two on campus, I noticed that my eyes no longer held this heat. They were not constantly prepared for tears, but rather were always searching for a new (covid-safe) adventure. My fingertips were now busy reading and writing in classes, and the angst once held in my stomach only came when I prepared to talk aloud in class.
My first Review at Davidson: Test anxiety is a familiar face that I see during any assessment. For my first Review in a colligate setting, I was full of worry. My eyebrows held on to tension like letting go would mean falling off a cliff. My shoulders had a tightness that reminded me of how hard a lion holds prey.
As I worked to release this pent-up stress, I studied for my Review and then, once I turned it in, I immediately felt a wave of relaxation take over my body. I unfurrow-ed my eyebrows; released a tightened jaw I didn’t know I had and got up to stretch my back and shoulders out. When I sat down, my shoulders dropped with little tension left, and I let the weight of my head rest on the chair. (This was even better because I got ice cream after the exam.)
As I move through my Winter break, Christmas, and preparation for the return to Campus, I plan to pay careful attention to how I feel, where I told stress, tension, and happiness within my body, and update this page before Spring semester. As we delve into critical thinking and new learning, it is important to allow introspection and self-care. By noting where I feel tense, I find that I make more efforts to relax my body and release bottled-up worry.
Now ask yourself: are your eyebrows furrowed? Can you relax your jaw? What about your shoulders? Neck? Take two minutes after reading this section to just move through your body and relax it. Regardless of if you have more of the portfolio to look through or not, I’d love for you to read with an open mind and also a relaxed body. We all need a release from bottling up our worry and hurt – I speak from experience of my bottle spilling out over time. So please, just two minutes. Feel free to engage in discussion about ways you find calm when under pressure in the comments.
After the two, say this mantra (if you’d like):
I breathe in ease and calm;
I exhale anxiety and worry.
I’ve done more than enough today
and I am proud of myself for all I’ve accomplished.
Everything will be okay. I will be okay.