Preparation for student life!

uni-sign

Where am I going?

Am I studying the right subject?

What are the halls like?

Who will my friends be?

Will I miss home?

Am I ready?

So many questions when preparing for Uni and equally as many for the parents!!

Having supported 3 young people on their journey to University last year I am aware of some of the feelings both before they head off and as they settle in.

There are a lot of expectations about how students behave and what a party lifestyle it will be. Students may feel overwhelmed, anxious and alone when the reality to what they have heard is often quite different in the short term and takes time to establish.

As parents the ‘fun’ times you remember are often the celebrations along the way, when friends have been made and towards the end of study. The feelings of bewilderment at negotiating a new way of life, in a new town or city, may be long forgotten.

Being a student is often a period of making great friendships and learning a lot about yourself. How to live in shared accommodation, to manage your time, perform academically in a new environment, access sports and societies and socially negotiate the drink, drugs and partying culture. There is good and bad but this doesn’t happen instantly.

Taking time to listen to your young person’s worries and concerns can help them negotiate this new phase of life. Being kind in your listening skills and available to them emotionally can be of great benefit.

So many young people head of to Uni nowadays and due to changes in how they have been parented, the materialistic focus in society, social media and the pressures on how you look, to name just a few, means there are added pressures on young people. Not all parent ‘helicopter’ their children but there is generally a much more responsive relationship with them, which amongst other factors such as high expectations and excess choices, may not foster young people to be as resilient as they were once expected to be.

This contradicts my previous paragraph in that it looks like parents create and need to continue to be supportive of their young people, but they do. Research has shown that the final period of growing into an independent adult extends as far as 25 years old. Long gone is the idea that you get to 18 years old and you are out there and independent – society does not make this easily possible for all kinds of reasons. Lack of affordable housing and lack of varied work opportunities for young people, to name a few.

In my work as a Hypnotherapist I have supported many students with anxiety over recent years and much of this has been around mixed expectations. Taking a step back from all the choices and beginning to understand it is a big transition but they will be okay, is the first step. They do have the skills to cope well, if they can just re engage with their resources. Hypnotherapy can help them to do just this.

Universities have been developing services to support students health and well being. Each campus should have access to someone to talk to as the initial place to seek support. This can make all the difference and is available on the website of relevant organisations.

Being connected with feelings and open with someone you can trust, such as a well being professional or your friends and family, is important to prevent escalation of low mood. Encouraging the young person to speak to their Gp is also important, if you are worried about mood issues, as this is the access to mental health services.

Often waiting lists for further support are long and this is where my work in my practice as a Hypnotherapist and with Anxiety Uk has been invaluable. Students have contacted me directly for a few sessions, with good affect, during this transition phase. For longer term anxiety and a small fee students can access support through this charity with resources online to read and download. There are several therapy options to access like Hypnotherapy at a reduced cost.

For students, and parents, it is feeling like there are some options to support young people as they head off on their new journey.

 

 

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Reflection, mental well being and mobiles

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Was that a snap or message?  Was it a ‘like’?  How do I look? Why is nobody responding to me?

Many of us are tied into constantly checking our phones.

The constant pressure of having our mobile phone next to us (often in the hand) so we can respond to any minor connection or feedback we may get, is burning out our energy and frazzling our brains!

How can we hope to function well living like this?  We are social animals.

Human connection and bonding within a social group, developing our skills so we can have  interactions, conversations and laughter, gives us a group role. This feeds into our sense of purpose and sense of belonging. All essential ingredients for our general well being.

University is one a big change for young people, who are often taking the first big step away from their tried and tested social network. (This is one example there are many other times when there are changes in life and the same challenges of social connection are present).

Following an increase in suicides amongst young people, particularly in later teenage years and young adulthood, the Vice Chancellor of Bristol University highlighted mobile phones as being one of the factors creating increased mental health distress.

Having ‘time to reflect’on what we are experiencing, before we communicate, reinforces what I’m observing in my work as a Hypnotherapist.

Just taking time at any stage of our day to be in the moment, reflect and enjoy those sensations of ‘being present’, allows our mind to calm.

If the brain has no down time to assess before responding, how can we function well? This constant bombardment of information and lack of time out is effecting mental well being.

We are being reactive and constantly available, but not really connecting satisfactorily!

What about face to face connection and personal feedback? With more time working from home I’ve noticed for myself you get more reliant on technology for communication and it is the personal interaction which boosts well being.

Take every opportunity to talk to people either face to face, when out and about, connect with friends by talking on the phone if meeting is not possible. Put some social meet ups in your diary…

Stay in the moment – chat, engage and talk – communicate!!

Reconnect with people to feel good!

Exam stress!!

 

exam-revision

Its that time of year again!!

Teenagers all over the country are beginning to feel the pressure…

poor motivation?

dis-organisation?

apathy?

erratic moods?

impending sense of panic?

anxiety?

As parents of a possibly uncommunicative, yet stressed teenager, where the young person may have great difficulty expressing their concerns, can be a challenging time for the whole family.

Knowing where to go to seek support can be tricky!

If the teenager is demonstrating anxiety and depression symptoms, where they appear to be not coping with erratic emotions, have significant changes in eating and sleeping habits or are expressing feelings of low mood, particularly suicidal thoughts, then a Gp consultation is necessary.

For many teenagers it can be much more subtle than this and who may improve the situation can be less obvious.

The schools and colleges are getting better at offering sessions on tips and strategies which enhance the students planning for revision, so they feel better prepared and more able to cope with the pressures.

Encourage the teenager to access support at school with lunch time and after school sessions and talk to their teacher about difficulties they are having.

With the multiple demands on teenagers this preparation is getting harder to focus on.

It relies on the teenager not being too hormonal, influenced by their peers (which has long been the case), but magnified by the massive influence from social media.

This constant distraction of messages, apps and the internet is pervasive and often difficult to manage alongside their rapidly developing brains. As many study skills need to be accessed on line it is increasingly difficult to avoid the pull of the internet.

Personal discipline is crucial and the challenges many:-

  • addiction to social networking and the phone constantly in the hand
  • a fear of failure making even starting to think about study difficult
  • performance anxiety making focusing a challenge
  • a lack of engagement with their studies
  • no clear sense of direction

Accessing resources to improve the teenagers ability to remain calm, focus and commit to performing in the way that does them justice is hugely beneficial.

A session or 2 with a Hypnotherapist who can offer NLP techniques to promote these skills, either with or without hypnosis, can help the teenager to set the intention and take the steps towards achieving their goals.

Contact me if you want to explore this conversation further.

Sometimes recognising what is happening for the student is the first step.

 

Calm focus…

 

aat-exams

Want to feel ready to give it your best shot in the next 2-6 weeks?

Want to harness the feelings of the very normal ‘fight and flight response’ and focus these into the most successful behaviours for you?

A session with a coach or therapist who can help you recognise these feelings for what they are and redirect them to work for you, not sabotage your well being.

If you are struggling at the moment with these feelings, you’re not alone.

Many teens around the country are struggling with anxiety about their revision, their performance and their future. This is a modern day tragedy.

Despite the growing awareness and public services trying to keep pace with the need to address this, many of our young people are simply not able to access the help they need in a timely fashion.

A session which explores your concerns and gives you techniques to feel calmer and more able to focus could make a big difference. This could involve being more in the moment, or mindful of the ‘here and now’, and using visualisation strategies. Practicing beforehand and using these skills leading up to, and during, the exam could make all the difference to how you feel and perform.

Please feel free to contact me to discuss your concerns.

images

 

Exam stress!!

 

exam-revision

Its that time of year again!!

Teenagers all over the country are beginning to feel the pressure…

poor motivation?

dis-organisation?

apathy?

erratic moods?

impending sense of panic?

anxiety?

As parents of a possibly uncommunicative, yet stressed teenager, where the young person may have great difficulty expressing their concerns, can be a challenging time for the whole family.

Knowing where to go to seek support can be tricky!

If the teenager is demonstrating anxiety and depression symptoms, where they appear to be not coping with erratic emotions, have significant changes in eating and sleeping habits or are expressing feelings of low mood, particularly suicidal thoughts, then a Gp consultation is necessary.

For many teenagers it can be much more subtle than this and who may improve the situation can be less obvious.

The schools and colleges are getting better at offering sessions on tips and strategies which enhance the students planning for revision, so they feel better prepared and more able to cope with the pressures.

Encourage the teenager to access support at school with lunch time and after school sessions and talk to their teacher about difficulties they are having.

With the multiple demands on teenagers this preparation is getting harder to focus on.

It relies on the teenager not being too hormonal, influenced by their peers (which has long been the case), but magnified by the massive influence from social media.

This constant distraction of messages, apps and the internet is pervasive and often difficult to manage alongside their rapidly developing brains. As many study skills need to be accessed on line it is increasingly difficult to avoid the pull of the internet.

Personal discipline is crucial and the challenges many:-

  • addiction to social networking and the phone constantly in the hand
  • a fear of failure making even starting to think about study difficult
  • performance anxiety making focusing a challenge
  • a lack of engagement with their studies
  • no clear sense of direction

Accessing resources to improve the teenagers ability to remain calm, focus and commit to performing in the way that does them justice is hugely beneficial.

A session or 2 with a Hypnotherapist who can offer NLP techniques to promote these skills, either with or without hypnosis, can help the teenager to set the intention and take the steps towards achieving their goals.

Contact me if you want to explore this conversation further.

Sometimes recognising what is happening for the student is the first step.

 

Reduce anxiety by deep breathing

One of the most common tools I teach teens and adult clients is belly breathing. It is one of the most successful tools when treating anxiety and fear. This trick can calm you down quickly and can be used ANYWHERE, which is what I love about it. Belly breathing is also known as deep breathing. […]

via Belly Breathing — Dayna Sykes, LPC-S, MHSP

Coming of age

My oldest child has become a young adult!!

Does it make me feel old?  A little…

Am I sad about it…

not really!?

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The last few years whilst she has been preparing for being more independant, have been a bit of a balancing act. I have still wanted to guide her as a parent, and will continue to do so,  but in a lesser role no doubt. There has been lots of challenge and disagreement!

As a parent of a teenager the conflict has been between me trying ‘not to know best’ and being available for discssions around tricky issues.

As teenagers they need to be able to explore who they are, look to their peers, try things out, challenge themselves, learn lots, make mistakes and run to the parent/s when things go wrong!

Their communication is all over the place from disengagement to outright rudenesss, with good moments in between.

It is a challenge to be steadily reasonable yourself when they are rejecting everything you open your mouth to say and can seem like a huge attack on you as a person.  You are “old” and “out of touch” and “don’t know anything” and are laughable – some of this is somewhat true, but can be very difficult to hear out of the mouth of babes. From the one you cradled, protected and nutured over the past 15 years or so and seems not that long ago. I know I’m getting sentimental now…

Parents need to keep adult enough, ensure they have their own interests and support systems to be strong and supportive during this phase. Having your own peers to share issues, laugh and keep perspective with is important.You are also a role model for your young person and how you deal with the stresses and strains of life is teaching those observing what the choices for lifestyle are. If you are struggling with any of these, seek help and support for yourself!

If you can keep communication channels open enough, you are doing well. You should be their sounding base at times and it is essential you set boundaries but are available for discussion if necessary, to unpick what is reasonable.

It may not feel like they trust anything you say much of the time but moments of difficulty will highlight this to you. Teens face huge pressures to look good, perform well academically and be social. Issues with low mood and anxiety have never been higher for our young people. Social media is the way of communicating so being involved and informing yourself, with your teens where possible, so what they are accessing is understood is essential. Friendships are of course a huge feature of this period and should be encouraged ideally with some interaction from parents so you are aware of their activities. Educate yourself on the dangers and the impact of social media and other teen issues on health and wellbeing. Awareness aids communication skills and being able to discuss more difficult subjects.

Schools and colleges are striving to keep pace with current issues as they arise and communicating with them and other relevant organisations, working together to support your teenager, can be reassuring in an ever changing environment. Keeping your teen engaged with learning and other activities available to them will promote their sense of belonging and reduce anti social activities. So having an open mind and being aware of opportunities to develop and support them is key.

So many issues to consider and I’m sure I’ve forgotten some…

I’m sure on embracing adulthood my daughter will continue to have problematic moments which at times I will find wearing. However…

Now I do feel more able to say – you’re a young adult, what do you think?

This has pushed some of the responsibility for more difficult decisions back to her and enabled a two way conversation with more balance.

It is a huge relief!!

Why Losing Control Can Make You Happier – Mindful

imageWork on lessening your need to seek control over others via Why Losing Control Can Make You Happier – Mindful

This explains a lot of the power balance when trying to manage teenagers!

As a parent I continue to work on stepping back a little…

Set boundaries, but keep communication open and encourage negociation and discussion. LOL!

Teenage tantrums

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Can you remember when life was all cute and cuddly!!

This seems like a long time ago now…………..it was a different more hands on and a physically demanding phase of life, but it was comforting and cosy.

Others warned of the challenges of teenagers – but nothing really prepare you!

They grunt

They withdraw into their rooms

They take everything as a criticism

Nothing is done around the house without a huff and a puff

They want money all the time

They want lifts to lots of different places – hopefully

or maybe they are constantly on a gadget!!

They are messy

Unreasonable

….and yet quite needy!!

Frustrating to say the least.

What about homework, peer groups, motivation, boy/girlfriends, alcohol, body image, sexting, drugs, sex, music (not rock ‘n roll), grooming – at least 2 types, choices, independance, parties, curfews,  part time jobs, a career? future, Uni?, study, health, safety, freedom, bullying, social media, wifi, kindness, money, driving, family relationships and responsibilities…

I’m sure there are lots of things I’ve missed. It’s endless and draining and emotional, and at times tedious and confusing, as a parent……………let alone the young person!!

Anxiety is a big concern around this period, for the teenager who is negociating their growth and exposure to new concepts both emotionally and psychologically, let alone the physical and hormonal challenges. This brings insecurity, social anxiety and risk taking behaviours possibly all at once! It can also be tricky to negociate for the parents, with a return to sleepless nights, but for a whole range of reasons.

It will all be worth it, I keep hoping…….. but all seems a bit thankless at times. 

This is all preparation for when the stroppers step away from their home base and become their own person. Your job will be done! The input that has taken years of your energies will be either embraced or rejected and you can no longer easily influence.

Every phase of parenthood has its challenges and some parents will deal with certain phases better than others. Teenagers can cause you to feel rejected, powerless and stressed as you try to support their challanges.

Remind yourself this is a necessary seperation and rejection of your values, ideas and beliefs for them to be able to grow up into independant people.

As a parent apart from supporting them and trying to keep in communication with them to guide them as needed and certainly when it is asked for….

To keep yourself positive you need :-

  – support from your partner, friends or close family member – an empathetic person who can hear you, but not judge you when you need to unload!

– time for yourself, to develop your own interests and remind yourself of your strengths and abilities

seek out information and resources that can guide you and give you strategies to make the teenage years as smooth running as possible

– friendship with others with teenagers so you can swap tips or ideas or just giggle and let off steam at the ridiculousness of some of the challenges

– focus on your own goals and direction for when you will have more time available for career moves or new skills

-time out for you, to relax and be able to face the challenges

space to explore how you feel about the uncertainty of the future and what the opportunities are!

Not everyone has the right contacts to meet their needs and keep you positive. Or you lack direction, feel overwhelmed or isolated?

Meditaion and Self hypnosis can be transforming tools to help self manage these feelings for both the teenager and the adult. Talking to a Integrated Hypnotherapist can help you identify what needs to change and how to use these resources so you can move forward.

Some time for relaxation and refocus is a start!