A cap-and-gown and pomp-and-circumstance can bring great excitement and usher in a new, change-filled and amazing phase in a graduate’s life. It can also bring endless job interviews, the reality of student loans and a move into either an apartment with a monthly rental bill or your parent’s basement. In short, it can mean STRESS.
I see patients dealing with stress all the time. It is a real health challenge and it manifests itself in difficult and often painful ways – headaches, backaches, fatigue and even colds and flu. But, there are ways that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and, specifically, acupuncture can help improve your health, reduce your stress and make this time more enjoyable.
Here’s a quick list of tips that may be helpful during this time of great change:
1. Remember that stress is normal and OK. Stress is your body’s way of dealing with fears, worries and over-stimulation. Pretty much sums up graduation, right? While you may not be able to just “turn off” stress, you can help manage it and keep it and keep it bay by exercising, taking the right herbal remedies, eating well and, yes, acupuncture is being used to help maintain your health and reduce several types of stress.
2. Get good sleep. Not enough sleep can be hazardous to your overall health, but it can also cause fitful and restless sleep and even contribute to bad dreams. In fact, this NPR segment looks at how graduation stress can prompt nightmares and what you can do to avoid them.
3. Keep moving. Fatigue and depression can be warning signs of too much stress. To help combat these symptoms, it is important to stay in tune with your body and to keep active. Moving and getting your heart rate up can help your body alleviate both mental and physical stress. Think about it – who doesn’t feel better after a brisk walk or a good workout?
4. Stay positive when job searching. This one is easier said than done, I know, but it’s important to remember that you are building a lifelong career. While this first job is important, it’s a stepping stone to several other positions and professional adventures that you’ll probably encounter throughout your lifetime. Even if your career path is a straight arrow in your mind right now, you’ll probably look back in several years at a more winding road. You’ll get there!
5. Keep on a budget. Money is a big source of stress, whether it’s around graduation time or not (wish I could tell you this wasn’t a lifelong stress button!), so the better you are about building a budget and sticking to it, the less financial stress you’ll have. It can be hard to live within your means, but it’s definitely harder to face overdue bills and credit card debt.
So, as you don that cap and gown this graduation season, please remember your health and try to not to let stress weigh you down. You’re accomplishing something amazing and you, your family and your friends should be proud and enjoy the moment. (Your body will thank you).