Be anxiety-free

Be anxiety-free

ask your counsellor

Be anxiety-free

Dear madam,
I’m currently a first year student at a well-known college in Dharwad. I stay in a hostel as my parents live in Belgaum. For some reason, I was not able to study in Dharwad, so my parents thought of bringing me back to Belgaum. The problem is that my subject combination is PCM and Statistics, but there is no college in Belgaum that offers Statistics as an option. Am I allowed to change my combination for the second year? Please help me with some solution.

Dear Aniket
I do not know anything about the rules around changing of subjects and things like that. I am sure your new college, or previous college will be able to answer that.

However, I would like you to try and understand for yourself why you were unable to study in Dharwad. Understanding that, and maybe addressing it, will help you make the best choice for yourself.

What was holding you back in Dharwad? Was it peer pressure to appear ‘cool’ and not study? Was it fear of the future and exams which led to anxiety that did not let you focus? Was it due to the fact that you were missing the safety, comfort and nurturing at home? Was it because you were being bullied? Was it because of distractions around girls? Or, some other reason. Identifying the reason and working on it will ensure that you do not repeat the same problem in your new college.

But this exercise may not be easy and you may need the help of a trusted adult, or a counsellor, to arrive at some answers for yourself. You may also call the Parivarthan Counselling Helpline at 080 65333323 for free counselling support over the phone since you may not have access to a face-to-face counsellor. All the best.

Dear madam,
My daughter is in the eighth standard. She spends a lot of time watching TV, sometimes watching it until 11 pm and beyond. This leaves very little time for her studies and is affecting her academics. I have attempted to discourage her by setting some rules, but she gets annoyed. It has reached a situation where I have lost control over her. What do I do?
Tense mother

Dear mother
Maybe you should get some help and support to understand what is going on for you. The reasons for your anxiety, and the feeling of loss of control and the resultant fear around that. Also, to help you regain your influence (I prefer that word to control) over your daughter. Influence is a much more powerful tool than control.

Also, very often, with our children, we look at behaviours and seek to change behaviours that we don’t like.

We never try to understand the behaviours in terms of the feelings and thoughts that are driving them. Behaviours are always linked to thoughts and feelings and those are what we actually need to address.

It is possible that your daughter is using the TV-watching as an escape because the work at hand is too overwhelming and anxiety-provoking.

Then that is what needs to be addressed, not the TV watching. When we don’t understand the feelings and thoughts, we are not able to connect to the child and we just keep trying to stop behaviours that we don’t like.

Like in an iceberg, the behaviours that are visible only give a small percentage of the whole story. We need to see the iceberg in its totality.

So my advice to you would be to seek to influence, not to control; and seek to understand the part of the iceberg that is not visible and is under the surface. And if you are not able to do this by yourself, please reach out for help to a counsellor.
All the best

Dear madam
My daughter who is in I PU (PCMB) says she forgets the subjects once she receives the question paper even though she has prepared well. What is the reason? Is this a common problem among students. Please advise.
George Jose

Dear George
Yes, this happens sometimes as exams can be very anxiety provoking for some students and if the anxiety is not addressed and put into perspective, then issues stemming from the anxiety fill up all the working memory, leaving little space for actual study material that is to be remembered.

I have written extensively on this topic in this column before and I would urge you to read my earlier columns that are archived on my blog. In particular I would suggest you read ‘Demystifying exam anxiety” and another one titled “Why exams are nothing to worry about” . I think these will help you and her understand the phenomena and make necessary changes.

It is also important that you, as parents, be mindful of the pressure you put on her around the exams and the expectations you have around marks. Sometimes, we don’t realise it, but we are the source of the stress.

And often, even if we are not, our children think they need to live up to our expectations, or their own, and put pressure on themselves.

If these inputs help, that is great, otherwise it will be beneficial for your daughter to see a counsellor who may help her address some of her fears around exams.
All the best

Dear madam,
I am in the second year of engineering and fairly good in studies. I have always dreamt of doing something on my own – doing something big. But I have no idea in which field. What would you have done if you were in my shoes? I really do not know how to get to my final destination. How do I go about realising my dream?

Dear SK
What I would have done if I were in your shoes is really not relevant, because your shoes are different and unique and only you can fit best into them.

It is important to discover your passion and understand your dreams better. What are your motivations for doing something on your own? What does doing something big mean – big in terms of money, big in terms of impact, big in terms of fame, big in terms of earth-shattering discovery? So what does ‘big’ mean to you? What are your motivators in life – money, influence, fame, impact, leisure, relationships? These are some questions you need to take time to answer.

Also identify your strengths and weaknesses and identify areas that play to your strengths.

Then look at the kind of opportunities that you can take advantage of, and threats that may hamper your path. Also list down areas that are of interest to you – an interest that is deep and lasting. Also understand what success and failure mean to you and how you define them.

Once you have done some of this soul-searching, possible options may start appearing. Your introspection may yield different answers as you ‘grow’ but that’s a good place to start.Good luck

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