Years ago, there was a quiz show on TV called ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ For all I know it’s still going, but like many others, my days of watching regular TV are mostly passed! In this quiz show there was a ‘lifeline’ contestants could use if they were stuck on a question called ‘Phone a Friend’. Contestants could call a nominated friend or family member and present them with the question they were stuck on and the ‘friend’ had 30 seconds I think to provide an answer. I guess it took some of the pressure off contestants as they hoped like mad that their chosen friend had the correct answer and could help.
Sometimes life is a little like that isn’t it? We feel pressured or unsure of ourselves. We desperately want the right decision to be made and just wish someone would tell us the right way or answer. You may be grappling with study option, relationship or accommodation decisions and it feels like the weight of these choices can have a sense of right or wrong. I remember that feeling a lot with study when I was younger. Study is expensive and time consuming and that feeling of ‘What if I make the wrong decision’? Even now I’ve been working for many years, sometimes there are multiple options for what to do next and a clarity of the right decision isn’t always there.
A couple of things to reassure you as you begin another semester of study or work!
- It all works out.
We’re always learning and changing. We may not get the answer right the first or even the second time, but each experience goes into making you who you are. You may change your study pathway after a year. Its ok! Take what you can from the experience and keep going. You might retrain several times in your working lifetime – what a privilege in this world. There are great resources and Departments here at UC to listen and guide you through decisions. Chaplaincy can be another pathway if needed.
- There are heaps of ‘Phone a friend’ options out there – or possibly email!
Even people you don’t know closely. My impression is that no one at UC wants you to go through this pressure alone. I know it can be unnerving to make the first step and that you have the weight of the world all around you to make a good choice, but please reach out to all the wide variety of student or staff support that exists on campus. The Chaplains can also offer a safe and confidential space to talk things over.
There are days I dream about not having to face work or the stresses of life. You may well ask how a Chaplain can feel stress and anxiety but I can assure you that we can! Our work is a huge privilege but there are still things that need doing that we don’t particularly enjoy and things that happen that we wished didn’t.
Many of you are in a season of anxiety and stress as you face assessments and exams. There is a lot of great wellbeing advice out there. Look after yourself, plan well, get some fresh air and exercise, seek help, study in groups, find the many services that are available onsite at UC designed to help you pass. People are genuinely here to help you.
I wanted to encourage you all as you study and face this stress and anxiety that you can get through this period.
As Chaplains, John and I can meet with you to help you see a different perspective – that although life feels so pressured at the moment – this time will pass. Every single day, being an adult is simply putting one foot in front of the other and learning to cope with the challenges and wonderful moments that cross our paths. Each day does bring something new and although there are times of facing hard stuff there will always be times of good too. We can chat with you, pray with you, supply you with coffee if it helps.
Part of living with stress is learning to build our resilience. Resilience isn’t something we naturally have and master – it’s a skill that we learn, adapt and practice. One small part of resilience is to keep a sense of humour – watch something funny, laugh and see how humour can put things in perspective and relieve your tension. Another hint is to have a hopeful outlook. Finding a sense of purpose and meaning. As someone of faith my hope may be different to yours but hope is always there. Finally reward yourself – do something you enjoy once this season is done. You quite literally deserve it!
I’m back at work after experiencing my turn with Covid-19. I’m really thankful that it was all mostly ok health wise. Even though I felt rubbish for a few days, I felt like there was a high possibility that all would eventually come right.
What did take me by surprise was how socially and emotionally isolating sickness is. When you’re unwell it’s like all your thoughts revolve around yourself way more than usual. Will I get better? When do I need to take Panadol next? What do I want to eat? Why aren’t more people checking in on me? How will I catch up on work? What happens if I feel worse tomorrow? I imagine as a student you also have your worries about your own workload, events that you may be missing etc.
None of these questions or thoughts are wrong – they are all valid questions but they all have the interconnecting vibe of being about me.
I have never studied psychology but in my small human wisdom, I suspect thoughts like the above can easily drift into anxiety type thoughts and behaviour. I guess because you are unwell, it’s hard to not let these thoughts and questions become replayed over and over again which don’t help when one is already isolated.
In Chaplaincy or the faith space, one antidote to thoughts like this is to think of others. When we think of our spiritual wellbeing, part of maintaining that ‘health’ is being there for others or at the very least recognising that we are all going through stuff! For each of us that may look quite different but the good thing is that it takes our eyes off ourselves and any anxiety we may be feeling and onto something else. I ended my isolation/sick time feeling like I didn’t particularly want to see anyone or do anything but forcing myself to reconnect and be in other people’s space and issues has really helped.
If you have felt isolated or down due to Covid-19 or any of the circumstances around Covid-19, know with that you’re not alone. Please reach out if you would like to chat through this further.