Reductio ad Absurdum: A Stress Relief Tool

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Two weeks left, a brief respite, then my internship begins. I’m looking forward to it. Unfortunately, it is not a paid internship, so I have to also find a part time job. I’d like to find one in my industry, but I’m not sure that’s a viable alternative at this point. I’ll have to do some searching…in between classes, labs, studying, car issues, etc. First, though, I need to find my way through four tests and three practicals. Here’s the rundown:

Physiology: Test on kidneys (including acid/base homeostasis), digestion, endocrine, and reproductive. Cumulative lab exam on everything from membrane physiology through reproductive systems.

Performance Enhancement for Athletics: This is the NSCA class. We only have 1 test, and it’s cumulative. The lab exam is also cumulative, though not comprehensive. First is video and picture analysis. Then we randomly draw exercises, have about a minute to set them up before the test subject comes in. We then explain, demonstrate, cue, and correct the subject.

Program Theory and Instructional Design: This is the ACSM class. We have one more non-cumulative test. The lab practical involves doing a series of assessments on a friend we bring in.

Dance: Yes. Apparently dance has a final exam. Technically there’s also a practical, but it’s more of a review. Given this is only a 1 hour credit course, I’m not worrying about it too much.

Oh, and we have final assessments for our faculty clients this week.

Why did I list all this out? It’s one of my “get a grip” tools. By listing what I have to do, I make it easier to figure out how to go about doing it. It’s more than defining hoops to jump through. Not only do I have the hoops defined, I also have clues as to the best approach for each hoop. For instance, the physiology test is probably the most involved; however, the lowest grade I’ve made in that class thus far is in the mid-90s. I have a very significant buffer. The NSCA class, however, has had no tests thus far. Thus this one exam carries more weight than any exam in any other class. That’s my priority. I’ll review and talk with my physiology lab- and classmates, but I’ll spend most of my time getting ready for the NSCA class.

The ACSM class, though in my area of study, has had a couple of tests and several quizzes. Based on my previous history, I’ll spend a little extra time preparing for the assessments in lab, but the test probably won’t be that much trouble. Certainly the dance class won’t get much of my attention. The majority of the grade comes from participation. The test goes over time signatures, cadences, styles, terminology, etc. Given my attendance and participation, even if I make a 0 on the test, I’ll still pass the class with a 75. I’ll do a skim-through but not really worry about it after that.

I’m not saying that none of these tests will be challenging. On the contrary, I know that at least two of them will be VERY challenging. All I’m saying is that with this list and this approach outlined, I now have a reasonable hope of putting my study time in the areas that are of most use to me. Explicitly stated, the order of my efforts are: NSCA, physiology, ACSM, dance. Having determined this, my stress levels are now well within manageable limits. In fact, if I help some of my classmates, I’ll not only be making sure I’ve learned the material, but I’ll be sure I can explain it in multiple ways. When I can explain something in multiple ways, I cease to have doubts about whether I actually know the material.

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Anxiety Reduction

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Note: This post is basically stream of consciousness. It’s not my usual discussion type post. Just working through something.

The beginning of the semester grace period is over. The warm up is done and it is time to start pushing my mind. However you want to say it, the ^*!# hits the fan this week. The first test in physiology is today, I meet my faculty client tomorrow, initial programming is due Thursday. Am I ready to run? I better be.

Okay. Panic over. I’m not 100% ready for the test in physiology, but I think I have a good grasp of what’s going on. This first one is over homeostasis mechanisms, membrane functioning, and neuronal functioning. It’s only three topics, what’s the big deal? (Excuse me as I pause to silence the evil cackling in the back of my mind.)

Thanks to my departmental chair’s sense of humor, my faculty client and I have a few things in common, so that should be less stressful than I was anticipating. Likewise, analysis and programming for the client is just a matter of crunching numbers and taking things one at a time.

Why am I stressing out? Because I’m a perfectionist. If things aren’t done “right” they’re not done well. At least that’s the default mindset I’m fighting against. Rationally, I know that this mindset is wrong. At the very least, it ignores the whole concept of school and learning curves. I think the real issue is not merely “passing”, it’s pride. In all my classes so far, I’ve excelled. So much so that in a couple of classes, when I was wrong, the instructor began to doubt herself. As I said, the fear is not whether or not I will pass my courses this semester. The fear is that I will become less in other people’s eyes. Pride.

I’ve set myself a high standard. I don’t know if I can meet it. Even if I can’t, I doubt others in the program will think less of me. Yet there is that desire not to put it to the test. I hate disappointing myself and others.

When I started this post, I was so anxious, I could barely keep my fingers on the keys of the keyboard. Now, my heart rate is down, I’m thinking more clearly, and I can feel myself focusing on the tasks at hand. Identifying the source of anxiety as mere pride rather than passing seems to be helping.