Ways to Combat Stress As a Young Intern in D.C.

Ways to Combat Stress As a Young Intern in D.C.

As a prospective TWC intern, I romanticized about what interning in D.C. would be like… meeting new people, exploring new places, spending countless hours scouring bookstores for a good read. In many ways, my experience thus far has been everything I could have hoped for it to be. But, there are certainly days where I find myself overwhelmed, cramming for midterms, and missing home a little bit more than usual.

With the ebb and flow of the intern life in DC, stress comes and goes and so do the corresponding anxiety attacks and depressive episodes. Stress can work as a deterrent for many considering interning concurrently with their studies, but as luck would have it there are so many ways that you can manage the stress and maintain practices of overall wellness. So to celebrate self-care, I want to share some of my best practices when it comes to incorporating wellness into my DC intern experience.

Balancing professional work and your personal life is key to staying stress free.
Balancing professional work and your personal life is key to staying stress free.

1. Prioritize time for yourself.

Interning in the metropolis of D.C. can be full of so many exciting new experiences and opportunities that you can easily become overwhelmed with the prospect of balancing professional work and your personal life. Don’t get bogged down in getting everything done all at once. Take things like tasks, assignments, and errands as they come to avoid front-loading, which typically leads to burnout.

2. Organize your life in a way that best fits you.

How helpful can a planner be if you never open it up? While organizational planners and calendars work for some, it’s important to remember there is no one-size fits all approach to mapping out your schedule. If you’re terrible at stationery planners, try a digital calendar on your phone or laptop. If you desire to disconnect and reconnect, then maybe try out a nifty wall or desk calendar to remember important dates. Regardless of what way you intend to go about organizing your life, definitely make time for breaks in between your internship or before your evening class to listen to music or catch up on your favorite Netflix show.

As an intern who has lived through just about every high-stress scenario that one might think of when interning in D.C., I can say that maintaining my overall wellness has certainly helped with navigating such circumstances.

Practice mindfulness as often as possible.

3. Practice mindfulness as often as possible.

Mindfulness is often thought to be some hippy-dippy practice that involves sitting on a floor and burning obscene amounts of sage and incense. While that may be what mindfulness looks like for some, it certainly varies from person to person. At its core, mindfulness is slowing down the thoughts that get us so wound up in the first place, and taking time to be present. In other words, instead of bringing all your thoughts to a complete halt, as is asked of many in yogic meditation, mindful meditation and practices are meant to center your thoughts in a way that best encapsulates the moments that we don’t appreciate enough.

While some of my tips might sound like the average self-help jargon, I hope that they also work as a guide for some who might be feeling that they cannot manage the stressors presented to them in their professional or academic lives. Go forward and be brave my fellow interns! You may spill coffee on yourself on the way to work, get your bag stuck in the elevator at the metro station, but you can power through it!

Joy Ivy

Joy is a student at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona where she is currently majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies. Joy is a Fall 2018 intern at the Peace Corps, a volunteer program run by the United States government which helps people outside the United States understand American culture, and Americans to understand the cultures of other countries.