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I had a consult this week with a student who is overwhelmed. He is preoccupied with the announcement of where he will continue college this fall (home versus on campus). The unknown of what his (immediate) future looks like is causing him so much anxiety that he is having difficulty making daily decisions. He is not interested in many activities, his self-care is poor, and he describes constant worry. His main worry is that he will fail more classes because he "does not do well learning online."
This student is proactively seeking guidance with figuring out how to manage his current stress and is aware that by August he will not need to worry. He is under the care of other professionals but was curious how a professional stress coach could help him.
Since the exploration call is limited to thirty minutes I did a great deal of listening. This student has significant insight and is expressive about his emotions. He failed some courses last semester and is still reeling himself back in (GPA) as he prepares for a successful semester (2020). He is self-aware enough to know he wants to do better, and recognizes his struggles around remote learning. He is curious about effective stress management strategies for both now and later.
When I come out of exploration calls with prospective clients, I always take a few minutes to reflect on how I can help the student and what specific gain they would receive with coaching. In this case, a professional coach can help the student identify the things he can control today (Circle of Influence - Steven Covey). A coach can help him learn the science behind the stress (fight or flight, adrenal functioning, mindfulness techniques) and how to stay on top of its daily (hourly) impact. And, a stress coach can help the student develop tools (both mentally and physically) that help the thoughts causing the emotions (anxious, scared, overwhelmed) which, in turn, is causing the behaviors (worrying, poor self-care, isolating from interests). Basic CBT. Even with the admission of executive function weaknesses (focus and concentration struggles with online learning), a coach can help the student set in place specific methods and practices for these concerns.
This student's worries are MANY students worries at this time in space. There are many college and high school students caught in the pendulum of campus learning or distance learning. As we are all aware, this is life right now.
The ability to adapt, bounce back, and cope in these circumstance are the factors that will determine success. Students are being asked to flexible when they are unsure how. They are being asked to be patient when waiting is causing the inability to plan and prioritize. They are being asked to understand when they are still learning to understand all that is involved with college life. A great deal of uncertainty is present and causing much anxiety and overwhelm.
When a student can go to college feeling their best, they achieve. They make friends, study hard, ask for help, set personal boundaries, and start thinking about their future. After all, THIS is what college is for, right. In order to "feel your best", there are some things that need to be checked, assessed, evaluated, and adjusted.
Does the student have a strong sense of self? Is their self-esteem healthy? Do there values lead their actions? Can they manage fragile emotional states, like loneliness? Can they prioritize their wellness? Can they manage their academic path forward - do they have an academic vision and can they forward think how to put action with the vision? Do they know the difference between "urgent" and "important"? How well do they function under pressure and respond to multiple deadlines? Do they know how to relax and balance life as a student? What does "balance" even mean? Can they recognize unhealthy situations? Can they correct faulty thinking? Can they reset unhelpful and unhealthy habits? Do they know the difference between stress and anxiety?