Destress Your College Student

College is hard on the parents too!

You thought you packed every possible thing they might need. You even remembered that blister Band-Aids might come in handy for some reason. You included the throat lozenges, and vitamin C in hopes they might feel compelled to do some preventative care. You reminded them to have fun, but within reason, to be responsible and oh yeah, careful and then even added, “Don’t forget to go to class.”

But somewhere in there, things might have gotten chaotic. Parties that started out only on Fridays and Saturdays, then slowly crept into the weekdays too. Outings and late nights became a daily event and classes, well, they got harder and harder to get to and keep up with. Perhaps that was also when phone calls home seemed to be vague and you had the sense that maybe, just maybe, you weren’t getting the whole picture. Or perhaps you were blessed with the son/daughter that told it like it was.

“I want to come home.”

Student studying 
by Don Hamerman
For Rutgers Photo Services

 

The words ring in your ears, as your heart races and you feel frozen in time. Shocked. All those hours spent on applications, college visits, essays and keeping up the high school grades, suddenly it was all coming to a crashing end, before it has even begun? How could this have happened? What did I do? What didn’t I do that I should have done? And now what am I supposed to do?

You put on your most confident and empathetic hat you can find and begin to reason with them why they should stay and how it will get better. All the while, though, you do wonder if your words are true.

College IS hard! Not just because of the amount of work, or the intensity of the work needed, but also because there is a constant pull for independence, a yearning to be with friends, to have a good time and to do…well…what everyone else is doing. What makes it even harder is that some kids, even with little sleep, all niters and lots of parties, they can make up for it in the way they organize and study, while many others, unfortunately, can not.

What can you do?

Help! Truthfully, they need it way before they reach out to say they need it, and the first thing to do is stay calm and reasonable and unattached to how their story goes. This is their journey and ultimately they will have to decide, but you can help! If you feel like they haven’t given it a fair chance to even see what is possible, then help them quickly to create some success. Let them know you will support them. And then choose to stand in that space. Then offer some suggestions.

Opportunities will create Possibilities:

1 – Hire a tutor: If a class is too challenging, hire someone that can work with them once a week so they can stay on top of their work and gain quick success. They will gain confidence in themselves as they see their grades improve and begin to see an outline of how they ‘should’ study.

 

2 – Organization: Telling them not to go out and socialize is not the answer. They need to get organized! Do they have a planner? If not, they should get one right away. If they are open to your help, teach them how to map out the day and week so they can plan their social life around the work they have to do for school.

 

3 – Anxiety: Are they constantly stressed out? It is typical for human beings to feel anxiety and stress when they are unorganized and don’t know what to do to fix it. The thought of all the ‘things I have to do’ runs amok in their head all day, creating more stress and less productivity. Creating a daily routine on paper will help tremendously, as will yoga or meditation classes, or even an intense daily cardio workout.

 

4 – Hire a Life Coach: Why? Because often our kids hear our advise as another lecture hall and tune it out. Yet with someone who is committed to whatever needs they have, they become open to creating balance and well being in their college life. They willingly take coaching on ways to organize without fear of being told to skip the parties. They also establish a safe relationship with an adult that is based on trust and allows them to be vulnerable and honest, without the lecture. The best part, is that having a Life Coach offers them a new perspective that they can take with them anywhere they go, about living the life they want, have the balance they need, and learning to keep stress and anxiety at bay. They learn to take control of their life.

We could all use a little more of that!

And lastly, don’t worry about the expense of getting them help. A few hundred dollar investment now, will save you from an extra year or two finishing college, and help him/her experience success through college and beyond.

Hurry Up and Get Present!

Thanksgiving is a tricky holiday. I mean, the mere idea of it, the whole concept, in fact, is simply being present enough on this one day…to be thankful. At times it seems crazy to me that we need an actual holiday to remind us to be thankful, but with life constantly throwing curve balls at us, and the simple daily grind of living, it is hard to maintain the position of gratefulness.

meditation

For many of us, finding things to be grateful for is not hard at all. We are thankful to have our family, no matter how large or small, our children, the house that provides us shelter each night…even in less fortunate situations there are things to be thankful for. Actually, I often witness those with the least in their possession, with the hardest of circumstances, are often the most grateful. But maybe that is what hardship does to us as humans. It creates humility and hope. It creates a lowered expectation of just what ‘lucky’ feels like. Perhaps the less you have…the more thankful you are, just to simply be alive.

Yet for us that flourish, have the gift of large, healthy, happy families, have money in the bank, a beautiful home we call shelter…the more apt we are to be running through life without a moment of consciousness.

As the week of Thanksgiving approaches, rather than taking the time to breathe, inhaling all the delicacies of life around us, we find ourselves rushing around.

Hurry up! Your brain chants…have to get to the store, beat the crowds, weave around bad drivers, suffer through parking and make lists upon lists! There are so many lists for Thanksgiving: the guests, set up, the cooking, the baking…and don’t get me started on the clean up!

All the while, though, this hurrying through your to-do lists, robs you of the most important part of life: Being present. If you maintain that pace all the way through the holiday, making time only to rest at the dinner table on Thanksgiving Day, all the while thinking about how clean up will go, you have already missed it. Black Friday will be upon you and it will be like you never had a Thanksgiving at all.

But it isn’t too late! While you are hurrying through this preparation period, allow yourself the space to wait in a line patiently, observing things in the store that maybe you never noticed. Notice the items in the cart in front of you and try to guess from their purchases what kind of Thanksgiving they will be having. Instead of driving around in circles to get the closest spot at the store, park far away, bundle up and walk! While walking though, think about the people who will be at your table this year…and how grateful you are to have them. And most importantly, take the time to breathe. Literally lie down when you have five minutes, close your eyes, and inhale so deeply that you can hear each aspect of your breathe while acknowledging how precious this life is. The one you have created for yourself. The one you have created for others.

After all, it is Thanksgiving.

Getting From Here…to There

What if our life is not at all about getting from point A to point B, but instead, about flowing ever so gently through all that is in between?

from here to there

When trying to figure out our life, we make plans. We set up lists, create goals for ourselves and assert that we know for sure where we want to be as we define vague pictures in our mind about someday. Then we declare our purpose and live a life that is filled with getting to that someday.

Unfortunately, someday doesn’t get closer. Not only that, but while we wait we are left feeling unsettled, discontent and fidgety as it begins to feel like we are on a road to nowhere.

Truth: Someday is not coming. Ever. Someday…simply turns into today, with the exact feeling you had the day before. How depressing!

The good news is that with a simple shift in your thinking, you can create a future by design, not by accident, and achieve authentic happiness. It’s not difficult to achieve and once set in place, you will see that your mind, body and spirit naturally want to flow through the parts of your life effortlessly.

First things first:
1 – Write a detailed description of where you want to be, when you hope to be there and how you will know that you have arrived. Write as much detail as you can, including how it will feel and look once you have arrived.

2 – Next, write several things that need to be done in the next 3 months, 6 months and one year, that will help you get to the desired landing spot.

3 – Now read it over, edit, change or add to it as needed, then put it away in a safe spot.

4 – Set a reminder in your calendar at 3 months, 6 months and one year, then check it to see if you are still on the right path. Change as needed.

Now you simply need to accept that someday actually only lives in today. In order to have a future that differs from today, trust that you have a plan in place and that everything you do today and each day, is leading you towards that future.

Eventually your mind will shift from the focus on Point A to Point B and you will be able to flow through your life as it comes to you. In addition, by leaning into your life as it appears now, your future will arrive just on time you and will feel authentically happy on the way there!