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.