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How’s the return back to school going?

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Inspiring Our Young People

At Grow Therapeutic Coaching, we are passionate about helping young people to achieve their potential. Our fully qualified staff use a variety of up-to-date therapy models to help young people and their families with any challenges they might be facing. Each one of us simply want to provide clients with the tools they need to bring about their own positive change. Here, our team have come together to talk about some of the most common issues they’ve been dealing with.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s Back to School We Go…

There were mixed reactions at the schoolgate when I dropped off my son this week. I saw plenty of nervous faces, witnessed some poor little souls crying and some were those so visibly happy they could almost jump for joy. And that was just the parents…

With lockdown restrictions lifted only a couple of weeks before the Easter holidays, did we really have time to get back into the swing of face-to-face learning? The stopping and starting of education has been a struggle for many of us, and the effects are universally felt. Even those without any little people have probably enjoyed a quieter commute to work and now must contend with the throng of more bodies on public transport or higher levels of traffic from the schoolrun. We’ve had to adjust to cope with brand new challenges; regular COVID testing, mask wearing, re-establishing friendship groups and maintaining social distancing (which one nursery teacher likened to herding cats). Having listened to our young people and those within their support networks, here are a few of the most common issues they’ve faced, along with our practical tips to help.

"But Everything’s Changed, Miss."

Yes, it has. And as we venture into unchartered waters, we have no previous points of reference to draw from. It’s perfectly normal to feel apprehensive,especially when having to re-adjust to crowded places or brushing up on our social skills. But different doesn’t have to mean bad and there’s plenty we can focus on to steady the ship.

It’s at these sorts of times we explain that some things in life we cannot control, but other things we absolutely can. In a therapy setting, we call the things that we cannot influence ELOC (External Locus of Control)and those that we do have some control over ILOC (Internal Locus of Control). For example, let’s take the weather. That’s definitely ELOC(out of our control), although it’s a brilliantly British tool to start up a conversation if lockdown’s left you with nothing to talk about! However, what can we control when it comes to the weather? Well, we can make sure that we have an umbrella, coat or sunscreen to deal with whatever the elements throw at us. That’s an ILOC way of thinking.

How about what’s going on with exams and test? Sorry, that’s ELOC, and we’re all victims of government last-minute decision-making, which is very unsettling. But let’s look at what we can control. We can control the amount of effort and work we put in between now and the time when the grades are awarded.Study plans can be implemented, online revision tools used, all these things are within our power. Eating healthily, getting enough exercise, how much time we spend on devices, these are all things we can control. By teaching a young person about all the things they do have influence over and to focus their attention on those, we give them the confidence to apply this way of thinking in other areas of their life.

“I’m Finding It Hard to Sleep.”

This is a particularly common complaint among parents and students alike. Our routines have been so disrupted that it’s hard to get back into the routine of a reasonable bedtime. Here are a few things that we’ve found can really help:

1. Turn off that screen! Yes, it’s temping and yes, it’s easier said than done with many young people. But it’s a well-known fact that the blue light from our phones and tablets have an adverse effect on our sleep patterns.Aim for at least one hour of screen free time before bed.
2. If you have a busy mind when trying to sleep, try writing a to-do list for the following day. The physical action of jotting these downcan clear your head and encourage calm.
3. Exercise, exercise, exercise. Did we mention exercise? This can be as simple as a walkaround the block at lunchtime or hopping off the bus one stop earlier. In the evening, why not try some light stretching or yoga? It’s a great way to ease tension and relax the muscles.
4. Listening to something soothing can be a great way to quieten the mind and induce sleep. Meditation recordings, relaxing music and sounds or bedtime stories for smaller ears can be found online or via various Apps.

“I Just Seem to Panic so Much More Lately.”

Anxiety is something we’ve seen a huge rise in across the board, from students and teachers to their families and (dare I say it) their therapists too. Again, with things as uncertain as they are now, this doesn’t come as a shock.

The very first thing we do when helping someone with anxiety is to explain what it actually is. Now, this may sound like an obvious thing to do, but most young people don’t realise that anxiety has a purpose,and an important one at that.

Back in the days when dinosaurs wandered the earth,if our Neanderthal ancestors didn’t have a rush of adrenaline to run or fight when faced with a T-Rex, well let’s just say that Dad wouldn’t have brought home the bacon (or mammoth). Down the millennia the threats have changed, but the brain’s reactions unfortunately have not, meaning that something that shouldn’t be so frightening can become quite overwhelming.

For example, being nervous before an exam is completely normal. Being nervous when trying something new for the first time is also very natural. However, when we feel anxious over the mundane, everyday things, that’s when we can start to become overloaded.

Here are a couple of quick techniques to help if you start to become overwhelmed:

1. Check your breathing. As the heart starts to race and the adrenaline flows your breathing may start to quicken. Try this very simple STOP technique. Literally, stop what you are doing and take yourself some where quiet if possible. Breath in a long, slow breath in through your nose, making the exhale through your mouth even longer. this five times to slow the heart rate and trick the brain into thinking  is just fine.
2. Sip some water. Simple, right? But there’s actual science behind this one. When anxious our mouth gets dry as part of the chemical process in the body. By sipping water, we can fool the brain into thinking that everything is actually ok and it can begin to calm down.

So, have a chat to the young people in your life and listen to how they’re feeling. If any of the issues above pop up, don’t be shy to use any of our suggestions. We’ve seen first-hand how they can help, and we really hope they can for you too.