Welcome to our Counselling Service Blog!
We aim to keep this section updated with useful blogs on topics that are relevant to you.
We hope that you will be able to utilise some of the info in this section.
The Counselling Service
Procrastination is the act of putting off until tomorrow what can be done today.
Learning more about yourself is one of the key factors in understanding how to overcome procrastination.
People procrastinate when they have to accomplish a task that can be repetitive, boring, difficult, long, or stressful.
to get tips on setting goals, time management, staying motivated and rewarding yourself.
Types of Anxiety
There are five major types of anxiety disorders according to the National Institutes of Mental Health, these are:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
GAD is characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviours (compulsions). Repetitive behaviours such as hand washing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these so-called rituals only provides temporary relief and can further increase anxiety.
Panic disorder is characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.
Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder)
This is characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. Social phobia can be limited to only one type of situation - such as a fear of speaking in formal or informal situations, or eating or drinking in front of others - or, in its most severe form, may be so broad that a person experiences symptoms almost anytime they are around other people.
Stress v Distress
Some stress can be good. People don't often always realise that stress is a very natural and important part of life. Without stress there would be no life at all!
We need stress as it helps keep us alert, motivates us to face challenges, and drives us to solve problems. These low levels of stress are manageable and can be thought of as necessary and normal stimulation.
But too much stress for too long is distress. This can develop in anxiety. Our body is designed to react to both types of stress.
Fight or Flight
Distress or anxiety results when our bodies over-react to events. It leads to what has been called a 'fight or flight" reaction.
Such reactions may have been useful in times long ago when our ancestors were frequently faced with life or death matters. Nowadays, we don’t have any wolves or tigers after us. Our bodies really don't know the difference between a sabre-toothed tiger and a University deadline.
Our Bodies Reaction
It is how we perceive and interpret the events of life that dictates how our bodies react. If we think something is very scary or worrisome, our bodies react accordingly.
When we view something as manageable our body doesn't go haywire; it remains alert, but not alarmed. The activation of our sympathetic nervous system (a very important part of our general nervous system) mobilises us for quick action. The more we sense danger (social or physical) the more our body reacts.
Problems can occur when over activation of the sympathetic system is unnecessary.
If we react too strongly or let the small over-reactions (the daily hassles) pile up, we may run into physical, as well as psychological, problems. Gastrointestinal problems (e.g., diarrhoea or nausea), depression, or severe headaches can come about from acute distress. Insomnia, heart disease, and distress habits (e.g., drinking, overeating, smoking, and using drugs) can result from the accumulation of small distress.
Irrespective of the type of anxiety, there are things we can do to manage its impact:
Preparing for Exams
Try to prevent being upset or disappointed with your exam performance by using these simple but effective tips.
- Make sure you have gathered all lecture your notes and passed papers for each subject.
- High-light important information.
- Think about what might be asked and write out answers to potential questions.
- Ensure you have enough pens and paper material when you start to study.
- Make sure you have a well-lit and ventilated area to study.
- Silence your social media accounts during the day so you can focus on your studies.
- Set out a realistic study timetable that include study breaks and extracurricular activities.
- Make sure you exercise, eat healthy and stay hydrated during your study period.
- Have early nights so that you’re alert the next day to study.
- Have a copy of the exam timetable and know what day, time and place the exam is being held.
- Once an exam is over make sure you put your notes aside or away so that you can then study and focus on the next exam. Overthinking about a past exam will only hinder your concentration for the rest of the exams.
Start your Semester Mindfully
Take opportunities to move your attention from your thoughts and enliven your senses!
- See what’s around you - look out for the new buds on the trees, the emerging daffodils, the shapes and colours of buildings
- Smell your drinks, food and various perfumes around you
- Taste and savour the drinks and foods you eat throughout your day
- Listen to the sounds in the room, outside. Let sounds be a reminder to breathe deeply for a few moments
- Touch, notice the feel of your keyboard, phone, the textures and fabrics that surround you
Mindfulness directs your attention from stressful thoughts of worry or planning and it calms, centres and grounds you by bringing your attention to where you are, what you are doing and how you are in that moment.
This helps you to pay attention and respond to yourself as you would to your best friend; with respect, kindness, patience, understanding and encouragement.
Take time to slow down and notice you and your surroundings.
Take some 5-2-7 breaths – as you walk, in class, while doing college work;
In through your nose for 5 secs : hold for 2 secs : breathe out through your mouth for 7 secs
“We will be more successful in all our endeavours if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-centre ourselves. And we’ll also have a lot more joy in living”
Thich Nhat Hahn
Looking for tips to help you adjust to the Summer Holiday from college?
- Keep in contact with your friends, arrange meet ups, it helps when you are low on funds to have friends across the country that you can visit.
- Be prepared for “boredom” – it can be difficult to adjust from intense workload to an abundance of free time. Plan something to look forward to everyday or work on a project to keep yourself busy.
- Work on your relationship with your family – the excitement of getting home to your own bed can be great at first but sharing you space with family can be taken for granted – pick a few things you know you like to do together and focus on the positive.
- Get back into a sport or hobby. Having your own hobbies gives you space to enjoy your time off.
- Have a pyjama day on a day with heavy rainfall – you might even be glad to see the rain to have the excuse to chill and relax.
- Meet the advice you get from parents with curiosity, acknowledge what’s being said and take from it what you can.
- Dust off the CV and get advice on how to update your CV if you want to get a job, it might be useful to ask around there might be odd jobs that help fund a wardrobe boost or a weekend away.
- Be psychic - get a few jobs done around the house before your family ask, it will reduce any tension building about chores.
- Enjoy the simple pleasures. Grab a notepad and list all the things you were keen to do instead of studying during the exams and go for it.
- De-clutter all the chaos from college clothes and notes. You’ll feel more relaxed and have things in order for when you need them.
- Go easy on your phone – make of list things you actually want to look up and limit your gaze into unnecessary streamed information.
- Cook – learn a few new dishes and invite a few friends over if you can. Or keep a note of the dishes that went down well and gather your college mates around when you all get back to college.
- Offer to do the shopping – it’s an opportunity to managing your own frugal senses and get out of the house for a bit.
- Remind people of where you are – it can be a shock to the system to have to explain yourself to parents again but often it’s just common sense to say where you are going and when you might be back.
- Get your sleep on track – if you were busy before leaving college with study or nights out, no routine – try to get your 8 hours sleep (at night!).
- Do organise events in your diary - free or low cost to get a buzz going with your mates and have things to look forward to.
Developing a Mindset that Fosters Resilience
Mental resilience is a persons’ ability to cope with life’s challenges and to recover from or adapt to adversity.
Your levels of resilience can change over the course of your life
We aren’t born with fixed levels of/fixed capacity for resilience
It can be learned and improved.
Things that improve our resilience include learning psychological coping skills, doing things that promote our wellbeing, and building social connections.
Resilience can also be eroded or worn down by difficult circumstances e.g. illness, debt, poor housing.
Why is Resilience important?
Resilience is important because it can help to protect against the development of some mental health problems. Resilience helps people to recover more quickly if they do experience mental health problems.
Tips to Foster Resilience:
- Practising relaxation techniques can result in deceased activity in the sympathetic nervous system.
- Talking to a friends/family; attending counselling or psychotherapy and use of CBT can allow space for a rational response.
- Self-reflection - notice how you are coping and respond to that;
- Time management – keep the pace going;
- Work/Life balance – have a hobby;
- Identify strengths – What I CAN do is …;
- Think positive - focus on something helpful, be proactive;
- Gratitude - is good for you for health;
- Embrace the challenges - plan your recovery from any setbacks;
- Recharge - plan to recharge your batteries – take lunch breaks/rest;
- Ask for help - when you feel stuck talk about it;
- Seek peer support – make time to network and build relationships;
- Avoid over critiquing – Dr. Harry Barry – “Pathological Critic”, encourage “Self Compassion”.
- Celebrate - progress; life events; friendships; family etc.
Looking after you
People often say “take care of yourself” but this is easier said than done. Most days, the amount of energy you devote to other people’s needs far exceeds any energy directed to your own well-being.
In fact, many people are uncomfortable being on the receiving end of other people’s attention and assistance. Sometimes you know you need help but you just can’t articulate what you need. It is so much easier to mind other people than it is to mind ourselves.
Some of us are taught to be happy with what we have, since other people have it much harder. It is little wonder then that we sometimes feel guilty that our own ongoing trauma pales in comparison to the seeming catastrophic tragedies of others.
The Importance of Self-Care
To be an effective friend/parent/sibling/partner we need to have the energy to be able to listen, advise, comfort but that can only really come if we have given ourselves the time and attention we also need.
To be the best person we can be we need to make time for ourselves; to nurture ourselves the way we nurture the people we care about, to acknowledge our own needs the way we help our friends acknowledge there’s, to give ourselves the downtime we need in order to re-charge.
Overcoming barriers to Self-Care
To overcome social, mental, and emotional barriers to self-care, it can help to understand the importance of taking care of yourself, and then build self-care into your daily routine.
It can be difficult to believe that you are worth taking care of, and that your happiness and well-being are not superfluous. YOU are important, YOU matter, YOU make a difference to the lives you touch every day.
Give yourself permission to need something
We all have needs and it is okay to need something. If you see a friend in distress you instantly offer them the support and comfort that they need. Yet you probably find it hard to give those same things to yourself?
Here a few tips that might make it that little bit easier….
Keep it simple
- Have ‘down-time’ every day
- Unplug from life and give yourself the gift of just being in the moment
- Make life choices that fit your situation
- Develop consistent routines
- Create a safe environment
- Understand and respect both your limits and those around you
- Resist the impulse to over-commit what little time you have - don’t be the one who volunteers to do everything
Accentuate the positive
It may not be easy, but as you step back to evaluate how you are doing, find time to laugh at the silly situations that come up.
Recognize the good in yourself.
Celebrate every step forward, no matter how small.
Celebrate YOU, after all there is no-one else on the planet like you.
Maynooth University Counselling Service Netiquette: A guide for students
What is Netiquette:
“The set of rules about behaviour that is acceptable when communicating with people over the internet. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/netiquette
It is useful to consider these rules as they underpin the basis of polite behaviour that would demonstrate respect to others online. A GOOD EXAMPLE is if you use all capital letters in text this might be read as if you were shouting.
During this time of change where can be reliant on working or studying remotely our communication is shifting. We are moving from Face to Face to operating through telecommunication or online video conferencing, so it is important to become familiar with Netiquette.
Drawing from Shea (1994) Ten Rules of Netiquette, there are key ideas outlined below to help students to be both comfortable and familiar in their educational and personal communication online.
Rule 1: Remember the Human
We often read text and wonder what the sender means by using a certain phrase or punctuation. Learning to “remember the human” and carefully read our messages prior to sending to make sure it is clear and the meaning is easily understood is a good rule to remember.
Rule 2: Adhere to the same standards of behaviour online that you follow in the offline world
Standards of behaviour online are just as important as face to face behaviour. The are always boundaries, if you are not sure apply the “Granny Rule” if my grandmother or someone I respect saw me behave online in this way would they approve.
Rule 3: Know where you are in cyberspace
Netiquette differs from domain to domain, the same written communication can be suitable in one area but considered inappropriate in another. Awareness of language and culture is important when working in cyberspace.
Rule 4: Respect other people’s time and bandwidth
This rule focuses on our presence online, with likes and input of requiring a response that often creates unnecessary work. A good example is to cc lots of people in on an email. Rule of thumb: think about who you need to send information to before sending, having an “Undo” option can give you time to stop an unnecessary email.
Rule 5: Make yourself look good online
When we are relying on our text to communicate, we need to pay attending to how we come across to others:
Check your spelling and grammar errors
Know what you're talking about and state it clearly
Be pleasant, polite and if in video call dress appropriately (no Pyjamas!)
Rule 6: Share expert knowledge
The Internet offers a platform to share information and support others to keep informed. Sharing of relevant information about events on campus; your course or supports and services that you might be involved in creates a presence and a sense of community within the University.
Rule 7: Help keep flame wars under control
Flame wars usually occur in a group chat, or forum where 3 or more people are intentionally offensive and argumentative, or when the meaning and tone of a text has been misinterpreted. In order to reduce the flames, in a discreet and quick manner clarify and apologise (if necessary). If you are a member of a forum and there are rising flames, be mindful not to fan the flames and de-escalate the concern if possible.
Rule 8: Respect other people’s privacy
Presence online does not always mean you are available. As software often allows you to know when another person is online it is more polite to enquire if the person is available rather than send an instant message.
Rule 9: Don’t abuse your power
Whether facilitating an online gaming world, a peer study group, or club or society be mindful of power dynamics. These means supporting everyone to be included and heard.
Rule 10: Be forgiving of other people’s mistakes
Once you have gotten the hang of these rules of netiquette, be careful not to fall into judging others for getting things wrong for example: CAPITPAL LETTERS – SHOUTING. A polite word in someone’s private inbox is all that is needed to point out where they are making mistakes rather than alerting an entire group. Another tip is to acknowledge and apologise for mistakes you may make, a common example is a name spelt wrong via auto correct for example Jnae… followed with Apologies for the typo *Jane.