To what extent does numbness take over in the academic world? Finals are approaching for FC students, and I observe around campus how the overwhelming pressures with academic tasks can lead to emotional and physical numbness – ouch! (Well I suppose not really ouch, because numbness often dulls out pain to where nothing is felt.)
As a Psych Counselor, I know that numbness tends to be the way in which we deal with stress short-term, although it frequently results in long-term pain that catches up. In a way, I think of numbness as avoidance – we don’t want to feel something so stressful. Therefore, we create a short-term solution where we think the problem is resolved. If putting a bandage over a wound truly works, then fine. If it only covers up the truth of deeper care needed, then perhaps not.
I feel for students here. They work hard. They suffer a lot. The keep going. I understand that college is an investment, and it is great to remember about maintaining balance of self-care also. Besides students, I also notice fellow faculty members (as well as staff and administrations). We seem tired. Perhaps it’s the weather and all the stress with finals. And we keep going.
When people continue to press forward with repetitive stress cycles, numbness is created. It’s as if we turn into robots – no feelings, just keep going.
Whether student or faculty, it’s busy time. The rain, dark, and cold sometimes come back, and they can affect us. How do we teach others and ourselves to identify numbness, find ways to resolve it, and maintain it as needed?
As a Psych Counselor, I support FC students with teaching themselves the adaptive ways to find perseverance and peace. Even though others, including myself, can help students find such ways; I truly believe it is their own life experience that can determine what are best ways to avoid numbness. I call this wisdom.
Some watch videos, while others listen to music. Some socialize, while others enjoy solitude. Some prefer energetic activities, while others enjoy quieter times. Regardless of the adaptive way to cope, I support students with finding as many ways to healthily cope when numbness and stress arise. I like to call it “The Tool Box” that has many coping skills, rather than only a few. One day, one coping tool works (e.g., a hammer), but then another day some other coping tool (e.g., a screw driver) is more needed given the circumstance. Similarly, it can be helpful to have a variety of coping tools.
What do others do to help alleviate numbness when stress arises?