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Math mania

1I am a student in grade 11 and I recently finished my exams. I studied really hard but I ended up getting a bad result in my math exam. It was not what I was expecting at all. I’m so disappointed in myself and I feel like a total failure. How can I stop beating myself up about it?

Vivek D

It is disappointing to get a bad result after you put in so much effort. This result, however, does not define you; it’s not an indication of how good you are as a student. The time and effort you put into studying for the exam is more of an indication of what kind of student you are. Even if your result is not reflective of this, you showed dedication and hard work. You should be proud of that.

Instead of thinking “I’m a failure”, think “I might need a new strategy for math exams”. Talk to your teachers about how you can improve and any advice they might have for you. Reconsider how you study and if there is a better way, such as doing practice exam papers instead of just doing exercises from your textbook. Assess what topics were difficult for you in the exam and focus on them next exam period. Getting a bad result can be a useful experience if it motivates you to do things differently next time.

2. I’m 26 years old and I’m pretty much addicted to Instagram. The other day I spent 8 hours on the app! I’ve noticed every time I go on Instagram I end up feeling bad about myself, because I see what others are accomplishing in their lives and I feel so behind. I really want to spend less time on Instagram and focus on more productive things, but I don’t know how to stop using it. Please help.

M K R

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To overcome a social media addiction, we should critically think about why we use it in the first place. Every time you find yourself opening Instagram, consider what you’re doing and how you’re feeling. Your addiction might have to do with being bored (i.e. needing stimulation) or needing to connect with others. You can then develop a plan to satisfy those needs, such as pursuing more hobbies or calling up a friend. Some people find that when working on an exciting project or travelling with friends, they use Instagram less and this explains why. It also helps to turn off notifications, delete the app (even if temporarily), or keep your phone out of reach to wean you off the app.

Whether or not you are addicted to social media, comparing yourself to people online can erode your self-esteem and make you feel unhappy with your life. When you find yourself comparing your accomplishments to those of people on your feed, it might be time to unfollow or mute accounts. You can create a social media experience that motivates and inspires you, by being selective about who you follow and what content you view. Remind yourself that people don’t share their failures or the years of hard work they put in to get to where they are – they usually only share their successes or positive moments. Don’t compare your life to someone else’s highlight reel on Instagram.

3. I work in a large corporation and I am so stressed out. My workload is too much for me to handle, and the responsibilities keep piling up. I feel I don’t have enough time to do it all, and when I try to rush I don’t do a good job at all. Even when I’m at home, I keep thinking about all the work I have to do and I can’t enjoy my free time. Sometimes I even think of quitting my job because it’s too much. How can I handle all of this work?

Mohammed

Feeling overworked is a very common problem. The most apparent solution is to prioritise your tasks and try to focus on getting one task done at a time. Delegate any tasks that don’t need your personal attention and eliminate anything you can from your to-do list. Sometimes talking things out with a colleague can help us gain perspective and figure out how to get through our workload best.

If your workload is still overwhelming, it may be time to discuss it with your manager. The natural tendency is to think you can’t handle the work because you’re not working efficiently enough or you’re not good enough, but it may be that the workload is too heavy for one person. Often, managers are actually unaware of how much time it takes for assigned tasks to be done. And while it is uncomfortable to admit you’re struggling to handle all the work, it is – in the long term – better for you because allowing responsibilities to pile up will make you look bad.

You can raise the issue with your manager by explaining what’s on your plate and how much time you expect to spend on each task. Make sure to offer solutions as well, such as automating tasks, sharing the workload with another department, or hiring a temp to reduce the workload. You can also ask your manager to help you in prioritising tasks. The intention is to partner together to achieve the company’s goals. When being offered new projects, you can say “I would love to work on this, but I won’t be able to give as much time and effort to [current project/s you’re handling]. Should I prioritise this or would it be best I provide guidance for someone else to do it?”

4. Recently, I gained a little bit of weight. It doesn’t bother me but my entire family won’t stop talking about it and telling me that I’m becoming fat. I really want to be fine with it but it’s very hurtful. I never say anything to them because I am afraid they will think I’m disrespectful. How can I get them to stop?

Salma

The solution lies in setting clear boundaries. What your family is saying would hurt most people. It therefore makes total sense that you would want them to stop. You can respectfully ask them to refrain from making such comments and ensure you explain what the consequences will be if they continue, for e.g. “I would appreciate if you stop making comments about my weight or appearance because it is hurtful to me. If it continues, I will have to stop coming over.” Setting boundaries is not about hurting your family, it’s about making sure your needs are valued.

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