Food for thought: New Beginnings
As I walked into work today I saw lots of students arriving at Leicester College. Some students returning for another year and some students looking a bit unsure, trying to find their way around campus and meeting other new people that they will be studying with. It got me thinking about fresh starts and new beginnings. It’s certainly a time of change and with that can come a whole range of different feelings – some positive like excitement, and some negative like nervousness and even fear.
I thought I would try and capture a few ideas to help everyone along their way.
Time for an Audit
A new beginning is a good time to do a bit of an audit. To consider the previous year, ask yourself what you did that worked well last year? What areas you would like to improve this year? What thoughts and behaviours are helpful or unhelpful to you? Be honest with yourself at this point 😉
The first step towards positive change is to give it some thought and then make decisions based on that insight. So for example if last year at school or college you were pretty unorganised and it stressed you out a lot then you should commit to being more organised. Consider how you would achieve this (buy a folder, create a to-do list etc.) Start now, not in a panic in February! Taking control will make you feel a lot less stressed and help you enjoy your year more.
Or if you feel that last year you put a lot of pressure on yourself you can consider how this year you will achieve a better balance between study and downtime. You might also need to consider your relationship with perfectionism. Sometimes people think pressure is a good thing. However, it can easily lead to feelings of being overwhelmed in the face of enormous challenge which can then make people freeze, or avoid, and have a feeling of powerlessness. All of which can start having a negative impact on your well-being.
A fresh start means an opportunity for a positive re-do. So take control, do an audit and think how you would like to be this coming year. Visualise your better version of yourself and think about the thoughts and behaviours that can get you there.
Change and Challenge
For the most part, humans do not really do change that well. Psychologically when we don’t know what things are going to be like we mentally fill in the gaps with ‘what if’. What if I get lost? What if people don’t like me? What if I am not capable of doing this course? What if I look stupid? We also usually only ‘what if’ in a negative way – How rubbish is that. When was the last time you thought ‘what if I do great and everyone wants to be my friend?’ No? Me neither [sigh]. Humans are built with a biological negative bias and we can talk ourselves into a really mentally uncomfortable tailspin with negative ‘what ifs’. The best strategy when you hear your thoughts scaring you is to recognise those thoughts as perfectly normal but equally, DON’T BELIEVE THEM. You really don’t have to believe your head chatter, it’s not real. Also, challenge these thoughts with kinder more reassuring alternatives. The brain will do the negative what-ifs easily and really it’s a type of brain training to pause and give a positive more balanced alternative. If you think ‘what if I can’t do this course’ give a kinder alternative – ‘what if I can, I was okay on the last course I did and I understand this area of work. I am not meant to know it yet anyway as I am here to be taught these new things’. Notice the difference? Kind self-talk can soothe you and your emotions. Give it a try and if it feels hard to do maybe ask someone you trust to give you a positive alternative.
Research into worry shows 85% of the things we worry about never actually happen. Of the remaining 15%, only 4% turns out to be as challenging as feared. That means for the most part our worrying thoughts are 96% of the time incorrect (and worse than anything that actually really happens!) Phew, good to know!
I hope that you can put these ideas to good use over the next year. I wish each and every one of you all the best. Just remember – You’ve got this.
Take care, Gayle Anderson. Counsellor St Margaret’s Campus.
If you feel that you need more support there is a counselling team that can help you so please get in touch and don’t struggle alone. We are here to help you.
Please contact the Leicester College Counselling and Mental Health Team.
Your tutor, mentor or any other staff member can refer you or you can self-refer by text/call/email the Counselling service directly on
FPC – Debbie Preston (Senior Counsellor) - 07825 011590 – Ext 2655 - firstname.lastname@example.org (Tues, Wed, Thurs)
APC – Jo Thomas -07919 004286 – Ext 4344 - email@example.com (Mon, Wed, Fri)
APC - Vina Radia – 07825 504365 – Ext 4344 - firstname.lastname@example.org (Tues, Thurs, Fri)
SMC – Gayle Anderson- 07795 402744- Ext 2244 - email@example.com (Mon, Wed, Thurs)
Alternatively, you can call our Student Services Team on 0116 224 2240.