Dear Senior Students,
Well done! You have completed two weeks of Supported Learning at Home and at this time, you may be perplexed about what will occur in the near future, short term and long term, end of this year, 2021, and beyond. As a consequence, you’re likely experiencing a range of different emotions and reactions, including stress, fear, uncertainty, frustration, annoyance, anger and disappointment.
While these emotions are completely understandable (and normal), they are also very distracting and disruptive. These negative thoughts and niggling doubts can have negative impacts on our health, mood and outlook. Worrying about the future gets in the way of appreciating, enjoying, growing, and making the most of the present. As a Christian College, our outlook is to put our Faith and Hope in our Heavenly Father and to rest in the knowledge that our Christ has given us this incredible gift of Grace that sustains us into eternity, therefore we can have Joy even in the midst of hardship. Our Faith is comforting. It allows us to know we don’t have to do anything in our own strength.
There are also many practical strategies for managing our concerns about the future so that we are able to re-focus on and enjoy the present as much as possible.
ReachOut.com has excellent articles to help students and parent with some practical strategies that when applied, could help…
Ways to cope
Feel prepared, come what may
For those of us who cope by having a plan, it might be helpful to sit down and write yourself two plans: Plan A (what you would want to do if things were ‘normal’) and Plan B (your best choice of what to do if things aren’t ‘normal’). Consider your Plan B to be a productive or fun way to spend the next period of time if you aren’t able to adopt Plan A for whatever reason.
For example, your Plan A might be to travel overseas, move out of home and into a college, or move to a new city for work/study; while your Plan B might be to complete some online training/study, gain new skills and work on creative projects with the intention of switching to Plan A six to 12 months later. Try to see your Plan B as an opportunity to upskill yourself and to work on some personal projects and goals while you wait to revert to Plan A at a slightly later date. The aim isn’t to give up on Plan A, but rather to put it on pause for a little while. If you are unsure of a good Plan B, talk to a teacher or careers counsellor about it.
Be balanced and compassionate in your thinking
It’s important to be kind to yourself and realistic in your thinking. When you notice that you are worrying, say to yourself: ‘It’s understandable that I’m feeling stressed, as this is a very unusual situation to be in. What’s the best thing I can do right now to take care of myself and to help me feel better?’
Try to be as kind and supportive when speaking to yourself as you would be if you were talking with your best friend.
Improve the moment
If you find yourself getting bogged down in worries and negativity, try to improve the moment by doing something nice for yourself. Watch a funny video or a favourite movie/tv show, play a game you enjoy, or spend time on an interesting hobby or craft.
Focus on your surroundings
Right now, it’s pretty overwhelming to be thinking about what might happen in the future. It can be helpful to focus your attention on what’s immediately around you and disconnect from the outside world for a bit. ‘Zoom in’ to your room or your home and think only about the task at hand (whether that’s your school work, caring for your pets or plants, or working on a creative project).
Slow down to be in the ‘now’
Spending a lot of time on screens can lead to a feeling of frenzy and stress. Slow down by practising some breathing exercises, or doing stretching or a mindfulness meditation. These activities will reduce physical tension and the bodily symptoms of stress and help to clear your mind.
Take control in your own world
Have a few things in your life that you are in control of. Examples include keeping your room or desk tidy, organising/cleaning out a space in the house, or making a plan that you stick to, such as messaging three friends each day, taking the dog for a walk, or completing a level on your game.
It’s really easy right now to think that everything is pretty bad, but it’s usually possible to find things, big and small, to be grateful for. Starting a gratitude journal (it can just be a note on your phone) will help you to refocus on the good things in life. Start by listing three things each day that you are grateful for.
Engage in random acts of kindness
Engaging in daily or weekly random acts of kindness will enable you to bring something good or positive into the world, and give you some sense of control. Ideas include making a gift for someone, sending a kind/encouraging message, contributing to community support projects, or helping out a family member or friend with something they are working on.
Your friends are probably experiencing similar worries and it can really help to talk about it together and support each other. If you don’t feel comfortable talking with friends about your concerns, you can get some support online via the ReachOut Forums.
You don’t have to work everything out by yourself! Talk to someone ‘in the know’, such as a teacher, your year coordinator, the school pathways coordinator, or someone who works at the uni/TAFE admissions office, and ask for their advice and suggestions. If you are feeling really overwhelmed, it could help to speak with a mental health professional who can help support you through this tricky time.
It’s important to remember:
- We are all in this together.
- It’s completely understandable if you are having a hard time coping with all of the uncertainty right now.
- It’s okay to be unsure about what you are going to do next year.
- Education departments, schools, state curriculum and assessment boards are working hard to ensure that assessments are fair for all.
It may be challenging to stay calm, motivated and focused when the world around you appears to be in chaos, and it’s difficult to accept that we can’t predict the future right now (not sure we ever could). However, it can help to remember that there are many different pathways to study and to work.
Although things may look different from how you imagined they would be, for now, focus on the things that you can control and trust that, no matter what happens, you’ll be able to cope when you consciously remind yourself that you are not doing all of this alone.
We put our Trust in God and his Faithfulness,
Acting Head of Senior