Anxiety, stress, worry, and… rest

I am pretty sure the word “rest” is obsolete in most college students’ vocabularies. Surrounded by due dates, tests, social engagements, work obligations, etc., we find ourselves wound up in a web of busyness and stress resulting in a failure to find time to just sit and be.

We need rest, and I do not mean the kind of rest where you nap for six hours straight or watch three movies in a row to “veg.”

I mean the kind of rest where your heart, mind, body, and soul know peace and contentment, like the feeling you get on a rainy Sunday afternoon when you are snuggled up in an oversized sweatshirt and fuzzy sweatpants with a warm cup of peppermint tea in your hands while you listen to the rain sprinkle against your window as it transforms the world outside.

No homework to be done, no tests to study for, no places to be. Just peace. And rest.

My first two years at MC, I found myself living in constant stress. I always worried about the next test, the next grade, if I would be good enough, or if I would meet the standards I set for myself. I did not know rest. I did not know peace.

Even when I would take time to relax, take a nap, or a watch a movie, my mind knew no rest, as anxious thoughts about what I should be doing or where I should be going consumed me. My mind obsessed over tiny assignments that did not even matter.

My perfectionism had completely taken over. Anxiety was my constant companion, and in its clutches, I was being stripped of any sliver of peace or rest.

It was not until the end of my sophomore year that I realized how much this anxiety had steadily taken over my life. I was tired of it, but I was not sure how to get out. During that time, I began to read a little devotional called Jesus Calling. Each day’s reading touched on the subject of worry and anxiety, and over the next weeks, my heart began to realize its problem.

I lived in anxiety because I failed to recognize my depravity. Instead of trusting in God’s power, I trusted in myself, creating a world where I lived for my own success and achievement. I idolized my grades and my performance, craving approval from my teachers and peers.

And that idol became a self-absorbed obsession, leaving me anxious and stressed at the thought of my inability to reach those standards.

I am human. You are human, and that basically sets us up for failure. Even as the truth of how skewed my life perspective was and how much I needed to change, I knew it was nothing I could instantly fix on my own. Learning how to trust takes time, and it requires taking time to get to know the One to be trusted.

I still definitely do not have this “no stress, no anxiety” thing down. I like to call myself a recovering perfectionist. And as I go through rehab, I have learned how rest is the antidote to worry. It is not easy, and it is a conscious decision I have to make when my mind begins to obsess again over how much homework I have due or what test I could be studying.

Instead of succumbing to the attacks of anxiety, I have to choose to take the time to sit, read, think, and pray.

I must do this to remind myself of the insignificance of my anxiety-inducing problems in the grand scheme of life, to remind myself of my incompetency to achieve success on my own, to remember the importance of trusting in a Love that overcomes even the most daunting obstacles.

We have to take time to rest, to remove ourselves from our crazy daily schedules and refocus. Our hearts, our souls, and our minds crave it. And do not get me wrong; there is a difference between resting and procrastinating.

We are here to learn, to work hard, to grow and be challenged. But overwhelming anxiety and stress don not belong. So to add a little twist to a familiar tune, “Don’t worry; be happy. Just trust. And find rest.”

– Maleesa Brenchley, Contributing Writer

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