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Ask Ogonna: Take a break, not a breakup during exams

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Midterm season is no time for a breakup, friendship drama or general relationship complications. That can also be said for normal seasons of academic stress, jobs, family drama and anything else that can upset our otherwise peaceful aura.

But usually, these things come as a result of how we handle our stress during intense work seasons. It’s important to take note of how we handle our relationships during stressful seasons in order to protect these relationships as well as our own personal wellness.

When I get stressed out, I shut down. My fellow INFJs of the world can feel me on this one. Many times, whatever stress or frustration we are feeling builds up and we either lash out or shut down, or both.

If you are anything like this, the first thing to need to do is recognize your energy levels. Know when you are at your breaking point and know what is best to calm yourself. Sometimes, we need to have our friends by our sides, but other times, we really just need to be alone with our thoughts.

If you start to feel down and need time alone to yourself, make it happen. You don’t necessarily have to retreat into a never-ending black hole that is Netflix, ice cream and, if you’re me, cuddling pillow pets. However, you do need to identify when you just have to say no to hanging out with friends or your significant other, and get your butt to a library or a gym or just your futon and relax. I find that when we’re stressed, we either crave people who lift our spirits up, or isolation in our rooms.

I think that we’ve become so addicted to constantly being in the know that even when we’re alone, we’re not. We’re usually on social media or texting someone. We still feel like we have to be connected when we’re by ourselves.

True story: I went on a phone hiatus for literally one day. I had seven missed phone calls and a massive amount of texts, and no I am really not that popular. It was just absurd to some of my friends that I wouldn’t even Snapchat them back for a whole day. My friends were concerned or felt ignored or confused as to what had caused me to isolate myself from the social world.

I realize now that a simple text to my friends letting them know I needed to be alone to handle my load of work would have made everything better. That way, I wouldn’t blow up at them during a hangout, or breakdown and have to retreat immediately. A simple text, tweet, or Facebook post declaring your social media absence during the stress of exams would be a great way to let them know that that you’re not ignoring them.

If you’re in a relationship where it’s normal to see each other almost every day of the week, but the stress of midterm season is taking a toll on you, take a break — and not that kind of break. Tell your significant other that with all the work you have to get done in the coming weeks, you need to have time to yourself during the exam period. Let them know you might not respond to every text or phone call, or be able to grab dinner or catch up. But also let them know of ways they can support you throughout, whether that be sending a note of encouragement or a brief phone call during the times you are free to chat. Be sure to ask them what you can do to support them during their stressful academic seasons as well.

It’s ok to retreat for a little bit, but let others know ahead of time so they can reach out to help if and when you need them.

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