I am a Class VIII student. I had a lot of holiday homework this time, but the problem was I was unable to complete it because I kept procrastinating. It feels like I keep waiting for things to happen without doing anything, and I can’t help it. Please guide me.

Procrastination is a habit and it can be overcome like any other habit. You are in your teens and you are most likely to have a lot of distractions. It is good that you have recognised that you are procrastinating and want to overcome it. In order to work on it, you must first identify the possible reasons for this habit. We tend to postpone certain things because we don’t like it or when we have a fear towards some work or due to lack of prioritisation of tasks.

The first step would be to identify the causes for your procrastination. Once you have decided to change your habit, work on it without blaming yourself. Understand that you are the master of your actions, and take control of it. Make a to-do list of the work to be completed and try to stick to it. When you are studying or doing your homework, avoid distractions such as television, mobile phones etc. If you need help, you can ask the adults in your family to help you from getting tempted by the distractions. Reward yourself whenever you complete the task to keep you motivated.

I can understand that when you have a lot of work to complete, you feel overloaded. Instead of analysing it, it is better to act on it. When you say “I have to do it”, you feel that there is no other option. Instead re-frame the sentence as “I choose to do it”, and your mind accepts the need and you feel more committed. Our mind acts according to our thoughts. Every day check your list and see how much you have improved, and feel happy about the task you have completed and assure yourself that you will do much better. You cannot change procrastination overnight, but if you follow the strategies to change this habit, you can do it. The effort lies in your hands.

I’m a Class IX student. I was on leave for three weeks because of chickenpox. But to my dismay I found that I had a lot to catch up with academically after I got back to school. The problem is my teachers want me to hurry up with the notes and give my cycle test too. Though I tried to explain about my illness to them, they were considerate only to an extent, and expect too much from me. What can I do? It is because of this fear that some students come to school even when they are ill and pass on the infection to others.

Falling ill and having to catch up with lessons missed is quite difficult. You must be weak recovering from your illness and the stress from school to complete your missed portions must be making you feel even more exhausted. Keep yourself cool. Your teachers are aware of the reasons. You should not become lethargic in completing your work. I accept that it is a little difficult, but putting in extra effort to complete the work is better since it is the beginning of the year and there would be a lot of portions to complete. It is good to do your best to complete it as early as possible. Negotiate and gain some extra time from your teachers if they can help you. I agree it is not good to go to school when you are ill and spread the infection. Teachers can give concessions for genuine cases. Parents can help you out and talk to the school for medical reasons. Of course you can get some extra help from your parents and friends to complete your work and manage your stress. Instead of avoiding writing your test, you can always learn and attempt to do your best. Your teachers will also be happy that you are putting in some effort.

I can see some greying hair strands on my head and I’m really scared that I will turn fully grey very soon. My friends notice the grey easily and many of them ask me about it. What can I do? My mother took me to a doctor, but the treatment did not really make a difference. I’m in Class XI.

You must be feeling upset and worried looking at your grey hair. You need to understand the causes for premature greying. It is mostly genetic and due to lack of melanin content. Too much of junk food can reduce your melanin production. Find out the causes and see what best can be done. Of course, you also need to learn to cope with it. Your friends might not know the reasons for your grey hair. You can manage your emotions rather than trying to control others.

Arthy Sriram
is a counsellor for a reputed school in Chennai, a visiting counsellor for an IT company and a career counsellor. She conducts life skills training for children and adults.

* Names of students have been withheld to protect identity.

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