Sweat­suits are some stu­dents’ favorite coping mech­anism. Elyse Hawkins | Collegian

When you hear “coping strategy,” neg­ative thoughts may come to mind: Binge drinking, smoking, promis­cuity. But allow me to introduce the best-kept coping secret: sweatsuits.

My fall break flight back to Hillsdale on Sunday was delayed, can­celed, re-booked, re-can­celed, and delayed again. After 32 hours of travel, by the grace of God and almond milk lattes, I landed in Detroit at 5 a.m. Monday morning — and the only thing keeping me sane was the thought of changing into a sweatsuit. 

As soon as I got back to Hillsdale, I ran upstairs, threw on my white snowball sweatsuit, and hurried up the hill to my 9 a.m. class. Did stu­dents look at me like I was an 80-year-old grandpa going to jazzercise? Did fellow Kappas question my pin-day attire? Did my boss ask if I was wearing pajamas?

Maybe. But none of that mat­tered: I was floating on a white cloud of cotton and no one could bring me down.

Coping mech­a­nisms are life-learned. As you grow through stressful sit­u­a­tions, you dis­cover what your mind, body, and soul need to recover. Of course, in times of struggle, you should turn to God, then to family, then to friends for shoulders to lean on. Counsel and com­pan­ionship are two of the best forms of coping — but don’t dis­regard other forms.

Maybe it’s baking your favorite cookies or watching that guilty pleasure show you’ve been waiting to binge. Maybe it’s a mystery novel you never get sick of reading or a walk to your favorite bench in the arboretum. It could be a sunrise jog or your favorite Rough Draft coffee.

Whatever it is, look after yourself. Learn what can bring you joy on the hardest day — and don’t be afraid to healthily indulge. 

Sweat­suits, however silly or unfash­ionable, bring me joy. To an out­sider, the matching sets are material goods that have no real bearing — but to me, the neatly-folded lightning-bolt and star sweat­pants in my closet are reminders of hard times and symbols of experience. 

I don’t need to remind you how busy Hillsdale stu­dents are. Long days of classes, hours of homework, club meetings, Greek life com­mit­ments, ath­letics, on-campus jobs, remote intern­ships, you name it: Hillsdale stu­dents always have reasons to stress. 

Relying on the Lord to get you through tough times is suf­fi­cient, but if you’re able, pat yourself on the back for a job well done or a sit­u­ation well handled. Don’t dis­count coping because it sounds like a term that anxiety-ridden, pill-popping people use. Reduce and mediate stress in a way that’s fine-tuned to your per­son­ality — and don’t feel like you’re less of a person for occa­sionally rewarding yourself with some­thing that makes you happy.