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  • Writer's pictureLouise Lombaard

Academic Pressure & How Knowing Your Strengths Can Help Lighten The Load.

Updated: Feb 23

This week our blog topic explores the pressures High School & University students face during their studies, further exploring how to manage stress & time by relying on your Strengths & how coaching can help design an approach unique to you.

The Scope

About 5% of high school students drop out of high school each year in the United States, according to the National Center for Education Statistics and; a high school dropout is likely to earn $200,000 less over his lifetime when compared to a high school graduate, which can have a significant impact on a young person's future.

In South Africa, there is a devastating drop-out rate. According to the UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Education Fund), about 250 000 school-going children drop out of school every year and this number has tripled during the COVID-19 pandemic to 750 000.

In 2023, it’s no longer just "troubled teens" who are dropping out of school. Some teens feel so much pressure to get into a good college that they burn themselves out before they graduate from high school.

How to deal?

If you have been around and keeping up to date with our blogs and social posts, you'll know that at Its a Journey Youth Coaching we don't believe in a one size fits all approach.

There are many different coping techniques out there to help manage stress and better manage your time, such as tapping, meditation and breathing techniques for stress which are beneficial all round.

For time management, there is the basic, copy and paste approach we are taught in school to be as pro- active as possible and to time manage according to priority.

Setting goals, keeping track of deadlines, breaking larger tasks into smaller, more digestible tasks and aligning that to a schedule with some checklists on the side can be incredibly helpful. BUT does this align with your natural energy? Will this truly help you manage your time better? Will it truly help lift stress levels?

The answer is Yes and No; Yes because any investment in better time management and lighter stress levels can be beneficial, and No because it may not be the best solution for your specific set of Strengths.

Let us explore some examples...

Adaptability as a strength that may produce better quality work when "procrastinating" because they have the right amount of pressure to drive and motivate them, given it is well managed to give them enough time to still meet the deadlines and not miss them. For Adaptability, having too much structure and planning in their day may paralyse and demotivate them rather than help manage stress levels and conduct better time management skills.

Another Strength may need a completely different type of stress and time management strategy, let us take Discipline for example, this Strength needs so much pro-active planning, like scheduling, prioritising, structure and neatness that the level of predictability and "traditional" time management techniques naturally used by Discipline will give a Strength like Adaptability a heart attack, and yes I am being dramatic but honestly, it may still feel like that for them. Where for Discipline, they will feel way less stressed and manage their workload so much better with the more traditional side of stress and time management.

Let us take a third Strength just to really paint the picture here, Responsibility as a Strength will most likely be able to find a structure for themselves in either environment of Adaptability and Discipline, but what will be vital for Responsibility to manage their stress levels will be receiving feedback, constructive feedback and to feel trusted with what they have to do, not necessarily with how they do it like that of Adaptability and Discipline.

It is important to understand where our Strength Dynamics start from, the Head, the Heart or in the Hands and honestly, I can write about this for hours, but putting all the details on paper will take to long for you to read; it will generalise it which isn't the point and our sessions will make any other information much more worth your time.

How can you know your Strengths to help yourself manage your natural energy and need better on a general scale? Even as specific as stress and time management ?

Start with the Clifton Strength Assessment, followed by an Awareness Debrief session. This will already create so much awareness and understanding of yourself; you may already be able to implement new strategies for yourself after one session! If not yet, you can always continue with a Strength Awareness journey, exploring each strength in- depth within your unique perspective to see how you can utilise them and meet their respective needs to help you manage your time and stress levels that come with that.

If you are interested then you can get in touch and we can explore what will work best for you.

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