One of the biggest problems I have had since being in law school is not properly managing my stress levels. I have a very bad habit of procrastinating until everything seems so overwhelming that it sends me spiraling into panic attacks. This, my friends, is a Bad Idea. Another result of my procrastination is that I never really know that I’m stressed until I start to show some pretty severe physical symptoms.

I think when normal people get stressed, maybe they get a little extra snappish, you know, have a shorter fuse in general. When I get stressed, I don’t even notice… until I start waking up with blinding headaches from clenching my jaw all night. Another thing I do is have trouble breathing. It’s really hard to explain. I will hold my breath without even noticing I’m doing it. Other times, I breathe in, breathe in, breathe in… without letting it out, until I’m dizzy. It’s almost a physical compulsion, not something I can help, and I don’t usually notice I’m doing it at all. It gets much, much worse when I’m stressed.

While typing this, I’ve already caught myself clenching my jaw and forced myself to relax it three times.

I’ve been spending time trying to learn relaxation techniques, but so far they’ve been unhelpful. Yoga takes up time and ends up being just another obligation weighing on my mind (not to mention that I still end up clenching my jaw and holding my breath (I know, I know, during YOGA)). Meditation is the same way, I have a hard time forcing myself to relax enough to breathe like a normal person and I find myself worrying so much about the time it’s taking up that it just makes me even more stressed.

So far the only thing I’ve found that works is to lay in the bed with my fat puppy, rest my head against her side and pace my breaths with hers. It’s usually what ends up helping me fall asleep at night. I think I might start trying vigorous exercise. Maybe running. I figure I’ll be concentrating too hard on not dying to hold my breath.

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