Recently, several students from Quebec learned that their winter session would still be online, and even if it is a relief for some, it is a news which came to formalize a little more for others the mourning of the learning environment that they had already started. I think the term bereavement is appropriate, since it really is the end of something important and impacting the mental health of many of our students now.
Far be it for me to play the apprentice scientist and question the health measures taken by the government. I do not have the knowledge to allow myself to speak publicly about it. However, I am a counselor and I work every day with students who feel helpless, broken, isolated and anxious. We talk, we ventilate and above all, we share tips so that everything goes better. I thought I would share my intervention guideline here, just in case it motivates you to be benevolent and pushes you to also put in place tools to help you. At best, this article will make you want to seek help if you feel the need.
What you need to know about stress is that it is very subjective. It is a very human reaction that occurs when an individual detects a threat (something beyond their control, again, suddenly and which is compromising their self-esteem). What is stressful for one person may be quite trivial for another. Stress in and of itself is not strictly negative either. It is often thanks to stress that we have the motivation to take action to meet new challenges. But if it lasts over time, joins many other stressors (loss of a job, moving, organization of a trip, separation, financial problems,) and that it is incompatible with the tools management already put in place by the person, it can become more harmful.
This is currently happening for many of our students. They accumulate stressors as if it were a competition. They try hard to succeed in their courses for which the modalities have changed little (depending on the teachers), often juggle their jobs and other responsibilities at the same time while feeling isolated from their friends and classmates.
But we tell them that we are understanding and that we do our best, that this is the perfect opportunity for them to be creative and quickly adapt to their new reality.
How are you feeling ?
Without ruminating on or feeding off our negative emotions, it is still important to be able to externalize how we feel and to name it to people we trust. By dint of pretending everything is fine and saying to yourself “No, it’s not that bad, I’m fine”, we end up putting all our emotions under the rug and one day, we take a landing in passing. in the living room. The emotions you are experiencing are legitimate. You have the right to be angry and to feel sorry. You have the right to find online lessons unpleasant and not quite sure where you stand in relation to your future at the moment. You even have the right to say that “it’s rubbish” once in a while. Accepting how you feel is the number one step in feeling better afterwards.
Before you make decisions on a whim and decide to drop out of school to become a dancer, get a Snickers. No, but kidding aside, it’s important to take a step back when we experience stinging emotions and our feelings are overwhelming (whether positive or negative). We often tend to let ourselves be guided by our emotions and react strongly to the situations we are confronted with. Often, that says a lot about us and the needs we need to meet. There are things that are going to hurt you more than others, and there are things that will make you feel like all of your plans are gone and life is meaningless. Breathe once, twice, go listen to music for 15 minutes or an episode of The Office on Netflix,feeling , take the next step.
Streamline your thoughts
“I’m sure the teacher is putting the exam on this date”, “I’m really bad at school”, “My friends talk to me less. Clearly they hate me ”… Welcome to the magical world of cognitive distortions. This is where dreams and esteem go to hide to die. I guarantee you that you grow several without even realizing it. Among the most famous, there are:
All or nothing : Either things are going badly, or things are going well. It is the distortion that makes it difficult to qualify what is really happening. This is what makes us tend to use the words never and always. For example: “You always ignore me when I talk to you / You never clean the house / I am always late for my work. “
Labeling : It is the tendency to attribute someone’s actions to their character. The person is not making a mistake, he is just plain bad. For example: “I didn’t do my part of the job yesterday, I’m really cowardly. “
Emotional reasoning : It is taking our feelings for reality, that everything is based only on our feelings (it takes little account of the feelings of others). For example: “I’m angry with you so you clearly have something to blame yourself for. “
Disqualification of the positive : Not taking into account all the positive elements in a situation. For example: Pass all of your exams, but think of yourself as failing after obtaining a low mark on one of the assignments.
And there are plenty of others. Realizing that distortions are often used makes it possible to rationalize things and make more informed decisions. Thinking about a situation from a different angle often even alleviates our negative feeling. A good tool to work with is the Thought Restructuring Board. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel, but you’ll find a link at the bottom of this article to take a look. It allows us to put on paper the objective situation, our internal dialogue in relation to the situation, the arguments to calm our internal dialogue and the possible actions to be taken from there.
Take care of yourself
All the time, often, as you can, with all the energy you have left. Self-care doesn’t just mean practicing yoga two days a week. It means celebrating our successes, our strengths, our gratitudes and setting realistic goals. It means taking a break from your computer to go for a 5-minute walk. Feel the outside. Cool the inside of the nose. It means calling people you love, staying in touch with them. There are so many ways to take care of yourself. I often encourage students to take the time every day to say something positive about themselves, their day, their career. I always ask the question “What are your strengths that can help you through the ordeal you are going through at the moment?” “. Write yourself a gratitude journal,vision board , read cheeky quotes on Pinterest. Anyway, do something for yourself.
Go get help
If it’s been two months since emotionality has turned your life upside down, you’re thinking about letting everything go, you’re feeling irritable and unsettled, go get help. Ask Student Services at your institution what resources are available to help you. Even online there are community and campus workers who can answer your questions and offer you a listening ear. There are also relatives, the 811 and lots of great resources accessible to all …