This is Caitlin, and this is her story: “I’ve always been known for my self-induced stress. The expectations I set for myself are often impossible to reach and push me into cycles of chronic stress. In high school, stress caused my body to develop H. pylori, a bacteria that causes stomach ulcers. Genetically, I am prone to ulcers, but I should have never put that kind of pressure on myself as a HIGH SCHOOLER. After that incident, I “thought” I learned to set *moderately* high expectations in order to keep my stress levels down. Then I enrolled in a top 25 undergrad business school and life hit me all at once. Not only was I quickly growing physically, mentally, and emotionally, I was continuing to set ridiculously high expectations for myself. My peers viewed me as a role model in how “put together” I seemed, and I felt like I needed to sustain this image constantly. By junior year I had developed actual stomach ulcers. I lost 20 pounds in under 2 months—and trust me, I didn’t need to loose any of it. Throughout this journey though, I have learned how much mental health correlates directly with physical health. During this time, yoga has become my stress release. I decided to try it on a whim because, in all honesty, I felt like I was completely out of options. Yoga has taught me meditation, which has completely transformed how I deal with stress. Do I practice yoga every day and stay real ~mellow~ now? Hell no. I’m still in that business school, and life is still hurling my way at full speed. But, what I have learned is to notice when my stress levels are beyond what they should be and when it’s time to reincorporate yoga or meditation into my life. My hope for anyone dealing with stress the way I did/do, is that he/she TRULY find what will reduce his/her stress. Achieving the high expectations you set for yourself means nothing if you’ve sacrificed your physical health, mental health and your happiness. So do yourself a favor and take time out of your busy life to regroup and de-stress, if only for a moment.” #featurefriday

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