Prepping for school

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I’m going to save my ranting about what BS the high level of expectation in university and college is for the podcast and focus on some things you can do to prep for the school year to clear a little space and time for you-time.

Prep two semester’s worth of food

Before my first year of college, I made huge batches of healthy food that freezes well, such as soup and burritos. Single portioned and stored in the freezer, these suckers saved me. On weeks when I had the time and energy to cook, I’d make fresh meals. The weeks in between, it was all leftovers.

I also raided someone’s apple tree and made a ridiculous amount of apple chips and apple sauce to keep around for snacks.

The second year of college, I forgot to prep. That was a Mr. Noodles and empty stomach nightmare.

I’m not in school and am working from home, but this summer I’ve spent a good deal of time foraging and preserving the wild edibles I bring home. The stash of cramp and cold relieving teas and frozen greens ready for stir fry could really help me out when I’m too anxious, exhausted and cold to go to the grocery store.

Schedule every moment of your life

Seriously. Schedule.

At the beginning of each year of university and college, I sat down and wrote out a schedule. First, I started with my classes. If I had a set work schedule, I fit that in. If it was flexible, I’d skip to adding in all the other weekly commitments.

I set a time to go to bed and to wake up , and I stuck to those same times even on the weekend. Good, reliable sleep really does a lot for anxiety.

With that in place, I’d decide how much time I wanted to spend on school work each week. That I’d try to fit before and between classes.

The rest of the time, that was for me. I need a lot of time alone, so I’d write down that I wanted two work-free evenings to myself each week. I’d promise my partner one real date and one solid hang out, and also promise myself time with friends.

One year, I scheduled a vegan potluck brunch for every Sunday. Before the school year, I told my friends I loved the fuck out of them, but would be too busy for much one-on-one time, so if they wanted my company they’d need to drop by then.

To be honest, most years my personal time went out the window and friend time turned into taking care of friends time. However, it was good to at least have that base schedule to work from, especially since it gave me the reminder that I need to have a little time for me and those I love every week.

Clean until it shines

In my life, housework is generally what comes last. And a messy home stresses the fuck out of me.

Before school started, I would spend one or two or even three days de-cluttering, re-arranging and sanitizing every little bit of my home. Linens and towels and all my clothes and jackets would be washed. I’d do the repairs and intense cleaning I’d been putting off. The balcony would be swept and I’d start to prep it for winter.

It’s going to get messy again and probably won’t take terribly long to do so, but at least I was starting at a high level of clean so that it might take a while to become an utterly disgusting mess.

Keep prepping once it starts

Sunday evenings during school was time for prep. I’d actually choose six comfy, weather appropriate outfits and set them in a row in my closet. I’d pull some frozen food from the freezer and make a few decisions about what else I’d be eating. If I had the time and energy, I’d go around and do some basic cleaning. I use shredded paper for cat litter, so I’d end the evening watch a TV show and shredding during commercials.

Early to bed, I’d feel a bit more relaxed knowing I’d set myself up for things to go as smoothly as possible.

My anxiety definitely got out of control while I was in college, so I’m not sure that I would have actually made it through to graduation without these tactics. In fact, even bringing these back for weeks when I’m booked full-time in an office, I can’t make it through a busy week because my mental health just goes to shit.

If you’re in school and struggling with anxiety, what are some things you do for yourself to help get through?


podcast artwork4This week on Ramblings of an Anxious Mess, I’m talking about why I think post-secondary institutions need to restructure how they treat students to reduce stress and encourage healthier work habits.

Shattered dreams

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When I was in school I dreamed of the day I was done and could finally stop using food banks and worrying about making rent. I was so excited to buy new clothes when I needed them and go out with friends and buy dinner for my partner. I was going to donate money to animal rescues and buy a house so I could start fostering dogs again. I had big plans.

Now I’m out. I have a job that will pay quite well when I start in two weeks. And I’m scrambling to find more freelance work I can do on the side.

The reality is, saving for retirement, stocking up an emergency fund and saving for a house will eat up most of my pay cheques. Then I’ll have to buy all the things around my home I’ve been needing, like a new tap for the toilet and sprayer for the kitchen sink. And once those things are paid off something else will break. And something else. And the cat will have another outrageous vet bill. And then my partner will go back to school and I’ll be picking up the slack.

It’s fine. We’ll be comfortable compared to how I’ve been living for the past six years, but I wish I had been more realistic with myself while in school. You’re not going to land a high-paying job right out of school. It’ll be a slow growth.

Eventually I’ll have the experience to be paid enough to save a few dogs and buy new, fair trade clothes. But until then I’ll just be thankful I’m done school and can keep the fridge stocked.