Balanced, Not Boring: How Embracing Life’s Simpler Fosters Stability

By Aliza Gray

When you hear the phrase “The Roaring Twenties”, more than likely you conjure up images of all things Gatsby, namely sequined-studded flapper dresses and lavish parties. Yes of course the phrase aptly describes the outrageous and brash heyday of our great-grandparents, but in my opinion, that’s not its only definition.

We are all in our own personal Roaring Twenties. As college students or recent graduates, our lives are bold and unpredictable. Being twenty-something means living in a state of constant excitement, harboring a tendency towards impulsivity, and facing no shortage of parties. Being in your “roaring twenties” is incredible. It’s also impossibly stressful.

With so much freedom comes and equal measure of instability. The pressure to carve out a niche for yourself professionally while leading a full social life often feels overwhelming. My advice to mitigate this stress is to embrace some of the behaviors not typically associated with being young. Mirror the behaviors of your parents, your bosses, your professors. Make them habits. Their sensible practices bring a much-needed sense of calm to our otherwise hectic lives. Here are some tried and true examples.

Wake up early

Throughout high school I was a big proponent of sleeping as late as I possibly could. I had it worked it out to the exact minute I needed to roll out of bed, setting my alarm early enough to allow myself the luxury of hitting snooze several times. The trend persisted into college, but a heavier workload often necessitated my waking up early to finish up assignments. Flashforward to junior year, and I find myself setting my alarm early not out of necessity, but by choice. Slowly but surely I’ve molded myself into a morning person, a small change that has had an immense impact on my overall wellbeing. Mornings are now a time of peace rather than stress. I revel in my quiet routine, enjoying breakfast and catching the day’s headlines, it allows me to clear my head and focus on the day ahead. The extra sleep just isn’t worth the extra stress.

Don’t Neglect Your Fitness

Feeling pressed for time is a given in your twenties. Between balancing a professional life, academics and a social life, pockets of free time are few and far between. It’s no wonder that a chance to free up a bit of our time, like by ordering takeout for dinner or skipping our run, to just veg seems so appealing. The only problem is, those shortcuts don’t erase stress, just increase it. Prioritizing your health and fitness go a long way in easing the mind and bringing inner peace. A good workout, whether it be weight lifting, cardio or yoga, energizes the body and lifts your mood through a natural rush of endorphins. A home cooked meal not only saves money, but is likely to be far more nutritious than any take-out. What’s more, investing in your own health and well-being can only serve to build self-confidence, create a strong sense of accomplishment and foster a feeling of inner-strength. I’d never advocate for totally abandoning takeout (I DEFINITELY would be stressed without the occasional trip to Cava) and sometimes it’s totally necessary to skip the gym in favor of nap. What I am advocating for is putting yourself, and your health, first.

Read

When I was young, I associated reading with being in trouble. When my parents would send me to my room after some trouble I’d caused, their parting words were “read a book, tell me about what you read when you’re finished”. This parenting choice undoubtedly stemmed out of my parents love of reading, a love I’m sure they were hoping I’d learn to share. It wasn’t a successful plan however. Although I no longer considered reading a form of penance, during my childhood and teen years I hardly considered myself a “reader”. I’d enjoy a book here and there, usually whatever the most popular YA novel at the time was, but a book was not my first choice as a leisure activity. In fact, it probably didn’t even crack the top ten until recently. Within the last few months I’ve found myself flying through books, and I can finally see what the fuss is about. Reading for me has become a major stress-reliever. It has proven capable of holding my attention longer than a TV show or movie generally can, and with an endless variety at my fingertips it’s the perfect escape. Whether I have an hour or just a few minutes, reading has become a reliable way to unwind.

Your twenties are exhilarating, rapturous and fun. They’re also exhausting, confusing and stress-ridden. Balance is key. So, for every party that you attend, for every all nighter that you pull and for large pizza you devour, have a low key night in featuring a home cooked meal and a good book, and thank me later.