Rachel Tookey: Week 2

Are you worrying enough? In her second column, RACHEL TOOKEY offers us her advice on how worrying should be done.

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Are you worrying enough? Are you worried that you’re not worrying enough? Are you finding it too easy to sleep at night? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then panic – because you really shouldn’t be reading this column. You should go finish your essay.

Worrying in Cambridge is a lot like getting your recommended 5 a day, just with panic attacks. You need to spend an unhealthy amount of time fretting about things, such as your work load, your health, and whether you left your door unlocked. I stress about almost everything. At the moment I’m scared my supervisor will get mad I called her by her first name, the police will stop me for cycling on the pavement, and that I’ve not been using the semi-colon correctly.

You may be put off worrying too much as it seems time consuming. The plus side I find to stressing is that I now have a lot less time to spend on being hopeful about the future, which means I am never left disappointed when the worst happens. In fact, my life frequently matches my expectations. This proves I am always right, and that boosts my self-esteem. The downside is I do miss living a life where I don’t feel in a constant state of alarm.

At this point those of you whom I sent away to finish your essays will have given up on them and come back to reading this column. And just at the right time! There comes a moment in Cambridge when you just want to reclaim your life from anxiety, and you may now be feeling it. I am here to tell you how to do just that.

When you find yourself put in a stressful situation – where decisions need to be made quickly – the first thing you must do is assume the brace position. Here it is demonstrated:

The Brace Position can be performed both when sitting down and standing up

This position enables you to successfully ignore the existence of your problems, as well as being good for your back muscles. It will also protect you in the event a plane was to crash into you. The brace position works in a wide variety of stressful situations:

The well-known self-help manual by the Dalai Lama, The Listless Life: How to Finish Your To-do List, gives further advice on how to deal with stress. When anxious, he recommends that you do breathing exercises. These help regulate our emotions. Begin by sitting down in a neutral space and assume a comfortable position. Next pick up the phone and call someone on your course. Then breathe heavily down the line. This will freak them out, sabotaging their state of mind and work, as well as giving you a good outlet for your frustration.

However, it may be that you are not finding stress difficult to deal with. There’s also the possibility that you really aren’t worrying enough. Cambridge is a highly competitive environment, and you need to make sure you are stressing a sufficient amount to unnerve and pressurise your peers. You really don’t want to appear too in control – that is a sign of weakness. If this applies to you, the University Counselling Service runs a weekly session on ways to increase your stress level. These include such tips as not crossing things off your to-do list and signing up to write a Tab column.

Now everyone’s problems are different and sometimes you just need some one-to-one advice. I decided I would try and answer your individual questions. As I’m still terrified of you, asking you to send in actual questions wouldn’t be good for my stress levels. So I made some up:

I am worried about my essay.

I already told you to go write it.

I am now more stressed than before.

You’re welcome.

The brace position isn’t working. I’m still anxious.

I would recommend you hold it for a few more hours, but if you think you might need actual help, you can try going here. They could help you; they helped me.