Episode 18 – ‘Supporting Students’

6 September 2022

Hello to you all.  We hope you are good and having a good summer.  For many people, it is back to school and you often hear people saying they are desperate to get back into a routine. Some of the things that you know help you stay grounded and centred and there might be a draw to get back to those.

It is so important for everyone to remember some of the things we will highlight in this show even though we are spending time thinking about young people and how they might be feeling getting ready for a new year at school.  We also need to acknowledge that a new year at school also means a new chapter for parents too.

Our minds are wired to like certainty.  It is a certainty making machine. So when we are starting something new or going somewhere unfamiliar we can feel worried, nervous, anxious. Some of what we are talking about can be related to anyone going into something that is new and this can bring up lots of feelings. We will have a look at some ideas of how to manage going into a new situation and we will focus on what it is like being a young person going into a new year at school, college or even starting uni.

Quite often when we are going into a new situation, we often build it up in our minds, start to think all kinds of thoughts and often not helpful thoughts and it often triggers out ‘I’m not good enough’. The fear centre is activated and this usually means that we are starting to put ourselves down. We might start to think ‘I can’t do this’, ‘I will make a fool of myself’ and particularly if your anxious feelings take over, we definitely will find it hard to think anything helpful or even kind. Remembering that when the fear centre is activated, most logical, rational and decision making goes out of the window. We can start to feel like you have no confidence anymore? Well the important news here is You’re not alone – lots of people feel like this sometimes. But there are loads of ways to boost your confidence and self-esteem. 

Self-esteem is how you think and feel about yourself. Being confident means being comfortable with how you look and how you feel. And it means feeling good about yourself, your abilities and your thoughts.

Sometimes your confidence can go up and down depending on the situation you’re in. You might be really outgoing within your family but be really shy in social situations. This is completely normal. In public situations, you’re surrounded by lots of different people and it can be difficult to speak up and be yourself. 

Building up your confidence can take time. Taking small steps can often lead to a big change. And you don’t have to do it on your own.

I think something else to keep in your mind is that usually when you have dreaded something, had a lot of negative thoughts and emotions and then when you get there, it is not as bad as you made it up to be. This again is common and using this experience to remind yourself of this is a good idea. 

Right, let’s have a think about what it might be like for young people going into a new year in education, but also anyone else who is going to start something new.  

Some might be happy to go back, while some wish they were still at home or want to be somewhere else completely. There are a few things that might be worrying:


  • what the school will be like when you go back, remember when the mind doesn’t have a picture or information, it can trigger the fear centre and we feel concerned. 
  • catching up with work and how you’re going to be assessed
  • being bullied and we will touch on this again  
  • starting a new routine, or coping away from home 
  • keeping safe 


Act as if you already have confidence 

Whenever you wish that you had a certain quality, practise acting ‘as if’ you already had that quality. If you want to look more confident, practise walking with your head upright or wear a bright colour. If you’re shy, you could talk to someone at school who you haven’t spoken to before. These things can seem scary at first. But after you’ve done it once, you’ll slowly gain the confidence to do it again and eventually, it will come naturally. Find out more about being assertive. Remember the mind loves repetition and usually feels better when you have done something once.


Look at yourself differently 

No matter how worried you feel, try to find one thing that you like about yourself. It could be your hair, your sense of humour, your excellent taste in music, or your football skills. Once you’ve made that start, you can begin to think of more things and create a positive image of yourself.


Watch your words 

Sometimes the way you say something can make a big difference to how you feel, and what others think of you. Take a few moments before you answer a question – this can help you feel more confident about what you’re saying. 

If you are not sure, ask to repeat the question or say you don’t understand. Don’t pretend to know. Try using words like ‘yes’ and ‘no’ instead of ‘sort of’ and ‘not really’. This can make you sound more clear and confident. 


Try something new 

Try a new thing every day. It should be something that you wouldn’t usually do. It could be a small thing, from styling your hair differently to volunteering to read out loud in class or joining a team. 

Each time you do something new, you are slowly stepping out of your comfort zone to make a fresh start. The rush you’ll get from making these changes will boost your confidence.


Listen to music 

Music can have a powerful impact on us. Whenever you begin to doubt yourself, try listening to songs that make you feel positive about life and about yourself.


Eat better, feel better 

Look after yourself physically. It can really make you more confident. Eating healthily and doing exercise can make a big difference. Try not to eat a lot of processed food like crisps, chocolate and ready meals. And don’t drink too much coffee. Instead, choose fresh fruit and vegetables and drink plenty of water.


Be kind 

Help a friend or do a little task without being asked. Phone someone who you haven’t spoken to in a while. Bake a cake or cook a meal for someone. Offer to walk a neighbour’s dog or volunteer for a charity. And I think we can add in their acts of kindness towards yourself.  In fact I think it is fine to say that this is really important and may be before you offer it to someone else.


Change the way you think 

Taking the time to notice when things go well and realising when you’re being too hard on yourself can improve your self-esteem and make you feel better. Whenever something happens and you have a negative thought about yourself, ask yourself whether you’ve done anything wrong. For example, if a teacher doesn’t pick you, you might feel like you’re not good enough. But it could also be that the teacher didn’t realise you wanted to be picked. Or they wanted to give someone else a turn. Even if you think you have done something wrong, try thinking about what you’d like to do differently next time. Thinking of positive things can be difficult if you’re used to putting yourself down. But you can use the mood journal in your locker to help. Try writing down your moods every day. Question your negative thoughts and try asking someone you trust about them. Make sure you write down anything positive you do, even if it’s small 

I just want to acknowledge the challenging situation of being bullied. This is a big and very serious topic and I know the impact can be so damaging but let’s just think about a couple of things you can do. Bullying can make you feel alone and helpless. And it can make you scared to go back to school. But bullying is never your fault. No one has the right to hurt you or make you feel bad. 

You should always feel able to go to school without being bullied. If you’re worried about going back to school, or don’t want to go back to school because of bullying, there is lots of help out there. 

What to do if you think you might get bullied: 

  • talk to your parents, carers or a teacher about it so that they can support you 
  • plan what you want to do at break or lunch times, having a safe place you can go with a teacher there can help you to feel calmer 
  • think about what you want to do if someone does try to bully you, knowing that you can ignore them or be assertive can help you to feel more confident. 

If you’re worried about being bullied at school, Bullying UK has lots of advice and support

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