By Lisandranette Rios
Stress from school, work and our personal lives can be overbearing if we do not have something to fall back on as a stress relief. I always love binge watching Netflix shows with a big bowl of juicy fruit after a long day. But, watching my favorite shows and going out for drinks with friends was not enough for me to lessen the stress I faced every day. In fact, my body started to react to the overloaded schedule and personal life issues in a bad way. Last year, I was having a particularly rough week that resembled what most students have been through at least once in their college career. It was one of those situations where everything that can wrong does go wrong. There were deadlines to meet every day, expectations at work soared higher and I was healing from the heartbreak of a severed relationship.
The first sign of stress overload was major pimple takeover all over my face. Then, my elbows got dry and itchy. I made time to see a doctor and it turned out to be eczema on my elbows, a common skin condition that causes patches of your skin to get rough and itchy, according to the National Eczema Association website. It was not a surprise to me that I have something like eczema. But when the doctor started asking me questions about stressors and what my work and life balance looked like, she soon realized that I was suffering from more. She began asking me a few questions on how I’m feeling and I just lost it and balled my eyes out. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety that day.
Life happens and some days it’s harder to make lemonade out of the lemons life throws us than other days. I was having too many of those days. So, I began to search for ways to de-stress that were more on the productive and healthy side of activities (fruit bowls are delicious but it is a lot of sugar).
First, I began practicing yoga. I found that it really relaxes me. After completing the stretches and poses, I feel better both mentally and physically. Although yoga has become a great hobby and fitness routine for me, it’s not something I get super excited to do. After a long day at work or hitting the books at the library, I’m not rushing home to grab my yoga mat and find my zen.
It wasn’t until I joined a belly dance group at the University of Florida, The Belly Gators, that I finally found an outlet where I can walk in and completely forget all of my worries. Not only did belly dancing become a hobby but dance has become a passion. Being able to connect with the music and move my body to the rhythm and melody of each song puts my mind completely at ease. I find myself daydreaming of dancing and making up choreography when I hear music. I cannot wait to start learning other styles of dance! Now that’s what I call passion and not just a hobby.
We all can find something that can become the passion that de-stresses us. It’s important that we pay attention to what we spend our time on. If an activity you are trying doesn’t excite you and you aren’t eager to do it again, then move on to another activity until you find the perfect match. There is something for everyone!