OPINION: Relieve stress by living slowly, frugally

Students walking across the Quad stomped on bubble wrap as a part of "Stomp the Stigma" for Mental Wellness Week, reducing stress and bringing awareness to mental illness. (Hannah Greer | Collegian Media Group)

My dad and I have a habit of hoarding things. We will keep meaningless papers and old calculators in a box in the basement for years. There is really no point to it, but we don’t like throwing things away.

My brothers spent months messing with an old, broken computer to try and convert it into something better, and I still have trouble walking by a piece of trash on the sidewalk without bending down to inspect it.

It drives people nuts. Who wants to play in the trash? Who has the time for that?

I was raised in a family that liked to do things slowly. We were always behind on the latest trends. We tried to save money in any way we could. We used and reused things, and I’m not talking about simply recycling soda cans.

I don’t ever have to buy new sunglasses because my dad keeps a container of old ones in the garage. They are way cheaper and more retro than anything you’d buy at Urban Outfitters. After all, they really are from the ’80s.

My phone screen has been slowly peeling off for the last few months. My dad’s best friend is duct tape. My mom has been using a broken gaming headset for a year to listen to her music.

This is not to say we don’t have nice, new things. We do. But we are picky about what we spend money on.

I used to feel embarrassed by all the old and dilapidated things I owned. Now, I’m grateful I can make something out of nothing. You’d be surprised how much you can make with a single cardboard box or old index cards.

I have met a lot of people who live like us and a lot of people who don’t. In America, people are quick to jump on new trends and new devices. It’s “attractive” to be on top of what’s popular.

But the older we get, the more we realize how ridiculous that mentality is. I also think we begin to understand how expensive the world is. Still, we feed into it.

The fast-paced and wasteful American way of life is a huge perpetrator in the deterioration of mental health, and it encourages unhealthy levels of stress.

Kids get bullied in school because they don’t have the money to buy the latest shoes or the newest “Call of Duty.” I remember feeling outcast for the times I didn’t or couldn’t keep up.

The problem with all of this is that time just goes faster the older we get. The less time we have to try and please the public, the more stressed we become.

Eventually, we realize we can’t win the race and we give into the insecurity we’ve been hiding from all along. We become anxious and depressed. We waste more and more of our resources until we are swimming neck deep in a pool of polluted water, and a fast-paced lifestyle doesn’t just harm people when it comes to trends.

I often avoid taking a mental break because I fear that I will fall behind in the game of life—which, in turn, induces more anxiety. Students find that if we choose to prioritize our health over our job or schooling, we end up with an overload of work to get done.

We can talk about how necessary and acceptable a mental health break is, but if we aren’t making accommodations for the people who need one, we are not helping.

If you are struggling to keep up with the world, I want you to know that you don’t have to function at the same pace as everyone else. Comfort is so much more important than you realize.

Take a nap every once in a while. Buy those cheap, knock-off leggings from Walmart. Post the not-so-great picture of yourself on Instagram. Play the old video game you love. Sit on a tree branch for an hour and listen to your music. Just relax and tune out.

In the end, we will run out of time. It’s inevitable, so stop worrying about it. Worry about saving money for the plane ticket to get home over the holidays. Worry about calling your mom every once in a while. Think about the things you can do rather than racing the clock because, in reality, who cares?

Who cares about the jeans you wear or the followers you have or your age when you get married? Everyone is so caught up in their own things they probably can’t even remember what they had for dinner last night.

So, live your life according to you. Oh, and you can save so much money on a hand-me-down calculator—just so you know.

Julie Freijat is a Collegian staff writer and freshman in mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

Hi there! I'm Julie Freijat. I'm the managing editor of the Collegian. In the past, I've served as an editor on the news and culture desks and worked closely with the multimedia staff. I love science and technology, hate poor movie dialogue and my favorite subreddit is r/truecrime.