Ideally, life should be like one of those plastic dinner trays. You have your separate compartments for your different food items: peas, mashed potatoes, turkey… and nothing ever mixes.

But all too often, we find that the peas and the mashed potatoes mix, and the stress in one part of your life negatively affects other parts of your life as well.

A friend recently confided in me that work was not going well. After listening to her problems, I pointed out that this was all happening at the same time as her breakup. It seemed like problems in her personal life were negatively affecting her performance at work.

Similarly, in my life, stress and my health are usually linked. And I know that I’m not alone. Why is it that students always get sick the week after finals?

When one is going through these different issues, their first instinct is to try and solve the problem at hand. When in reality, the problem usually has deeper roots. Self care is something very few people indulge in, but I have found it to be very empowering. Setting time aside to exercise, eat well, or dress up for a special occasion always does wonders for my morale. Similarly, when I feel like I am going to have a panic attack, writing down positive affirmations lowers my anxiety levels.

Because, unfortunately, life isn’t like a plastic dinner tray with separate compartments. Stress in one part of our life usually overflows into other parts as well. When this happens, take time to evaluate your life and your choices. What is the real problem? And then take small steps to adjust your lifestyle. Treat yo’self! But instead of buying an expensive bag, go out and take a short walk. Call a friend. Learn a new skill!

We cannot prevent certain factors from affecting other parts of our life, but we can control the degree in which it upsets us.

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