How Stress Affects Me

 Here’s a probably not-so surprising fact: I am fully stressed out. I’m not exactly sure when it started, probably after getting back from break. I’m dreaming about renal physio, I can’t seem to get drug names to stick in my brain, I’m behind on DIT, and with professors using the catch phrase “you’ll see this in June” every other sentence, I think it’s fairly understandable. What I didn’t know was that I was even that stressed, until I had an *almost* full breakdown on the mats yesterday. Yes, I know this is a public blog, but I know I’m not alone here. Essentially, I just couldn’t get a sweep down while drilling and all of a sudden I just hit my frustration limit – and I just couldn’t handle it. (And here I’d like to apologize to the guys I may have freaked out when I started talking in a pitch only dogs can hear). I took a step back and realized it wasn’t the sweep that was getting me, it was everything else, but somehow I let everything build up to the point that it affected me on the mat. And let me tell you, that made me very unhappy. I always saw BJJ as my escape from the stress and craziness of the world. So imagine my dismay when I realized it had followed me into my “safe haven”.
What I imagine I looked like while freaking out.

So why am I telling you this? Because I realized that’s perfectly okay. A year ago, I would have just quit what I was doing, probably grabbed some ice cream on my way home, and let it affect the rest of my day. What did I actually do? I took some deep breaths, refocused, and pressed on. I finished the lesson, did some open mat, then went home and finished studying for my exam. I didn’t quit – I persevered. The stress obviously didn’t just go away with a few deep breaths, but I have learned to deal with it much more effectively. Med school is really tough for everyone; and since we’re all super type A personalities we take “losses” very hard. Doesn’t matter what those losses are – I consider getting behind a loss, or having to take a whole weekend off of studying for a CDM exam a loss. I even consider it a loss when I zone for a few minutes in class and somehow miss something important. Those losses haven’t changed, I still have those the same as I did last year. What’s changed is my ability to deal with them, and realize that I didn’t lose. BJJ has taught me that – the only time you lose is if you fail to learn a lesson.  
After a night of BJJ

I guess the point is that I’ve grown. I think everyone has stress in their life (and if not, please tell me what you’re doing and how I can do the same!). For me, that’s unavoidable. What you can control is how you deal with it. (Ask my brothers or parents if I’ve improved from last year – I’m sure they’d love to tell you stories.) I know a bunch of my classmates who run or play soccer or basketball, and that’s great! What I turn to is BJJ. Because I don’t know any other sport where you can walk out of a 6 minute match having tapped 6 different times and still be smiling.


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