It would be lying if I said that I go any given week without large amounts of stress. Chapters of books need to be read, projects and papers need to be finished, and there’s always the looming test date getting closer and closer until I realize that it’s today and I haven’t studied half of the material I need to—and that’s just school. Being involved in campus organizations take time and effort that I wish could be spent getting the school work done, but I gave them my word that I would help them out. I’ve got parents breathing down my neck about finding a job after college, and roommates who just won’t clean up their messes. All the stress adds up, but I’ve found one simple way to deal with it: ramen. It might not be the healthiest of college staple foods, but it’s cheap and easy to make. It’s been so easy that I picked it up as a 10-year-old and have developed it into an art form of its own. As I add the correct amount of water and heat it to a boil, as I add the noodles and allow the right amount of broth to steam off, as I ad the seasoning and enhance the flavor with vegetables and spices, in my mind, I become the master chef of ramen.
And that is where I find peace. In this, the worries I have about school or insecurities fade away. Cooking ramen becomes an artful dance. Every movement I make is intentional and done with supreme awareness. With each stir of the spoon, with every slice of the knife through the onions and mushrooms, with every carefully measured speck of cayenne pepper, I develop a clearer focus of the meal I have before me—the one I am intending to create. In these moments, I can clear all other stressful thoughts from my mind and focus on the one singular task at hand. And when I’m done, I can collect my thoughts and go about dealing with the stress, my body fed and my mind restored.
Maybe you don’t have a stove, or maybe you don’t like ramen. It probably doesn’t work for everyone. I’d say: pick an activity you really enjoy or have been doing for a very long time and just do it. Running, drawing, or playing music are all great therapeutic ways of dealing with stress. They all require focus, skill, and build up your ability to do them in the process. One could become a great runner or artist fueled by a desire to eliminate the effects of stress and not be controlled by it. That’s the important part: don’t simply do for the sake of doing, but do in the knowledge that you’re making yourself better in mind and body through these actions. As for me, though the stress of school isn’t going away, I will soldier on. I know that as long as I can get it for 88 cents a package, I’ll be killing off stress, one killer bowl of ramen at a time.
BY BENJAMIN LABERGE firstname.lastname@example.org
ILLUSTRATION BY JOE FRASER.