The student of today is faced with a growing amount of pressure than our forefathers, who once spun tales of scaling the highest mountains and crossing the most dangerous roads to get to school.
The student of the modern age is faced with the pressures of a digital era, intrusive connectivity, increasing competitive, instability, shifts in their local environment (Covid, for instance), and overall changes in the social support system.
Aside from the daunting physical pressure, there is a build-up of mental stress as well that tends to go unnoticed. The traditional concept of "manning up", or waving the problem away does not apply in today's generation. Times have changed and youth of today need to be handled gingerly, complete with consultation from a professional to address their challenges and steer their minds towards positive outlooks.
The year 2020 alone has been stressful to many high school and university students, who have had to make the transition from traditional classrooms to digital conferences. While it may have been easy for some, others who co-habit with other family members, have no study space of their own, or have the ability to self-discipline themselves have been hit the hardest. These students may still be silently suffering, despite the newly-introduced blended learning that aims to resume the academic year with safe health precautions.Â
According to Harvard University, there are certain signs parents, peers and friends can look out for identify stress and mental disruption in students. Their conversations may range from complaints about not being able to concentrates, feelings of being overwhelmed, loss of motivation, mentions of loneliness and feeling lost, poor academic progress, or even appetite loss. At times, they may even seem to overindulge in food as a form of distraction, which is an impending sign of other complications related to health.Â
In this case, it is essential to introduce a student to counselling services within reputed universities or invest in a specialist who can provide a range of emotional and psychological support. This could, if not significantly, help reduce conditions such as anxiety, depression, career confusion, and improve overall behaviour.
For others, keep an open platform for students to discuss their thoughts on specific topics. Create a safe space with positive and engaging conversation. The most important point to remember is to listen without judgement.
Take initiative to change your outlook
Students themselves can improve their mental well-being with simple steps. For instance, start with setting a regular sleep routine. This involves waking up and sleeping at a set time, putting away all forms of distraction. Reduce screen time and smartphone notifications on silent mode. To genuinely reduce the time with digital devices, use an actual alarm clock. In case you're unable to sleep easily, try a relaxing hobby, such as yoga or reading. Dim the lights and have a warm cup of milk to increase your chances of dozing off. Make sure to also stay hydrated.
They can also practice mindfulness, which is proven to give a fresh outlook in the mundane things in life. Start by decluttering. This not only involves material things but also people who do not give you the positivity you need in your life. Change and tidy up your bedsheets as soon as you wake up so that you have a neat bed to sink into after a long day. Step out, take a deep breath and take in the scenery. Even a concrete wall can boost your morale with the mind-set. Manage your time well and include a nice 30-minute stroll, now that the weather in the UAE is getting cooler.
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