Earlier this week, I realized quite literally how the static of stress can creep up on a person! In our apartment, we have a white-noise machine that we sometimes turn on near our baby’s crib in the main room, to provide a little sound coverage so that we can move about the apartment or talk softly without waking up our son. Recently, though, baby Nathaniel has discovered the sound machine and learned how to turn it on. He loves to play with it, trying the different settings (white noise, rain storm, night-time crickets, ocean waves, etc.) and turning the volume dial up and down! Normally I notice when he’s playing with it, since his favorite setting is the rain storm setting with dramatic thunder-claps that you can’t miss!
Yet the other morning, after the baby had gone to daycare, I was working alone at home for a few hours, and felt unusually on edge… frustrated, impatient, and unsure why… until, only after a long time, did I realize that the “white-noise” was cranked up to FULL volume, filling the air with an easily-ignored but obnoxious static. The baby must have turned it up and left it on, and I had somehow gotten accustomed to it and not noticed for hours! But what a relief once I turned it off: beautiful, calming, peaceful silence! As I relaxed, I realized how much I’d been yearning for true silence!
When you notice anxiety in your life, how do find peace? What helps you recognize the stress for what it is? Do you have any healthy ways to ‘dial down’ the volume on the stress?
Especially at a place like Georgetown, it rarely feels possible to turn the many pressures of school life off, either completely or for very long… But I encourage you that it is possible, and in fact necessary, to find moments or spaces of respite here on campus.
What would it look like for you to turn down the ‘white noise’ of stress? Does it mean ending the day reading a chapter of a novel rather than looking at screens? Could it be praying or meditating? Taking a walk through the Georgetown neighborhood? Stopping by one of the sacred spaces on campus? Or perhaps calling a friend back home? Everyone needs moments of genuine peace to thrive, and hard-working Hoyas are no exception!
Written by Stephanie Wong, Chaplain-in-Residence