Give Yourself Some Grace

Hey fellow student. Are you struggling with feelings of self-doubt? Are you wondering what your next step is? Are you taking your online classes one week at a time thinking, “If I can just get through this week, then I’ll get it together” and then next week comes, and it’s the same story? Are you tired and weary? If you didn’t answer yes to any of these questions, first, good for you. Secondly, the remainder of this article most likely won’t apply to you. If you did answer yes, however, here are some suggestions, affirmations and tips that might help.

First of all, self-doubt is normal. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. Your current lack of confidence doesn’t mean you’ll always lack confidence and berating yourself for it is only making things worse. In further attempt to affirm, but not condone your self-doubt – know that you’re not the only one feeling it right now. Many people are reeling from the upheaval the year 2020 has caused in our lives, and for young adults especially, it’s caused feelings of self-doubt and anxiety about the future. While knowing others are dealing with the same issues you are may not ease the burden you feel, hopefully knowing you’re not alone in these feelings can provide some comfort.

Secondly, it’s okay to not know exactly what your next step will be. Let me repeat that: it is okay. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that our plans don’t mean much to life. Life is crazy and constantly changing, and even the best laid plans go awry. Does that mean you shouldn’t even try to plan your life? No. It just means that not knowing does not equal disaster. If you keep doing the next right thing and accomplish the tasks that are immediately in front of you, opportunities that you never imagined will open up to you. Trust the process.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed looking at the responsibilities right in front of you, here are some suggestions that might help.

Tidy your space. Okay, yes. I know adding one more task to your to-do list may seem counterintuitive but hear me out. Whether you decide to clean your entire house, or just tidy a small area at your desk or workspace, cleaning the space around you will help clear your mind and give you a sense of accomplishment and confidence that will spill over into the rest of your duties. If you don’t believe me, try it and see.

Hey, speaking of to-do lists: make one. There’s a reason they’re so popular. If you’re struggling with keeping up with schoolwork and assignments, try making a list of all the things you need to accomplish for the day. List even the really small tasks, like, “reply to Mrs. Jones’ email,” or “catch up on lecture from Wednesday.” Don’t only list the big assignments – also write down all the little things that go into completing those assignments. And as you complete each task, make sure to cross it off your to-do list. This method allows you to visually see all the things you’ve accomplished on your way up the metaphorical mountain, rather than just seeing one big mountain. And as the number of items you cross off your list grows, the confidence you have in yourself will grow with it.

Here’s an obvious one: breathe. Yes, I know you’re constantly breathing, but I am almost certain you’re not doing enough of it. And no, before you assume, I’m not going to suggest that you meditate and focus on your breathing for hours at a time. All I’m suggesting is that you take a moment every hour or so to take three or four deep, deep breaths. This short, easy activity will slow your heart rate, send more oxygen to your bloodstream, and essentially tell your brain to chill. Seriously, start breathing more.

Lastly, stop berating yourself. Stop focusing on what you’ve failed to do. Just for a moment, stop looking at what you have left to do, and focus for a minute on all the good things you’ve done that have gotten you where you are. The most important thing you can do for yourself in this moment is to give yourself some grace.

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