If the thought of going back to school fills you with anxiety, you’re not alone. This time of year can be extremely stressful. From the fear of the unknown to creating a new routine and being in new social situations, both for students and parents. Let’s look at the challenges as well as the opportunities to manage the complexities associated with returning to school.
It’s that time of the year again. If you’re like most people, students or parents, that probably fills you with anxiety, worry, fear, and all kinds of complicated emotions.
Anxiety can impact the whole family when going back to school. From elementary students worried about recess to parents struggling to find school supplies and college students buying textbooks. School stress can be difficult to cope with. In fact, a recent study found that 63% of college students found their back-to-school anxiety to be overwhelming.
While back-to-school can cause loads of anxiety, it doesn’t have to be that way. We all have the power to change how we feel, and how to get a new perspective on managing this time of year. So, to help you out – here are a few rapidly effective strategies.
Being able to recognize the signs of anxiety can help you pinpoint what exactly you’re feeling and give a name to it. Some signs of anxiety include:
- Changes in habits (eating, sleeping, etc.)
- Becoming easily agitated
By watching out for these signs, you can be more aware of your own mental health and recognize moments in which coping strategies might be helpful. Speaking of coping mechanisms…
Focus on the Positive
Positive thinking can be challenging when you’re feeling anxious, but it can be just the thing to help you change your mindset.
We have approximately 60,000 thoughts that run through our mind every day. How much we enjoy life or don’t depends on these thoughts. So how can you shift from negative self-defeating thoughts to ones that inspire and empower you? Follow these 5 simple steps:
- Write a gratitude list of 3 things you are thankful for. For example:
- I’m thankful to already know some people at my school.
- I’m thankful for my stylish new backpack.
- I’m thankful for getting to take an art class.
- Write 1 thing that would make your week special. For example:
- I’m going to bring a special lunch on Wednesday.
- Write 1 trait you want to have instead of anxiety and how you will get it. For example:
- Kindness: I’ll help another student that look lost in the halls
- Compassion: I’ll mentor a younger player on my team
- Generosity: I’ll offer gum to someone without anything in return
- Listen to a quick meditation that only takes 1-5 minutes to change your state of mind. One that I like to recommend is called SOS Method Special Formula Meditation as they’ve been proven to calm your nerves and develop a positive mindset – AND, the best news of all – your mind doesn’t have to be still for it to work. You can even listen to them in the car on the way to school or when taking a walk on a break.
- Act on what you wrote; remember what you are grateful for, do something special and become that trait you envisioned.
Focusing on things you’re looking forward to, such as meeting new people or getting into a new club, can help you shift your perspective and remember the good aspects of heading back to school.
If you’re a busy college student, sleep likely isn’t one of your top priorities. However, this can have a significant impact on your mental health, leaving you more prone to anxiety and less likely to use healthy coping mechanisms.
By focusing on creating a healthy sleep routine before school starts (yes, before school starts), you can help your body + mind prepare.
Pro tip: Midday naps may seem ideal, but they’re not a replacement for a full eight hours at night!
If there are specific things you know you’re feeling anxious about, there may be ways to plan ahead. For example, if your child is nervous about finding their classes, consider looking up a school map and picking out the right route. Not sure what to make for lunch? Why not try packing a few different snack-like options?
Are you a parent whose child is struggling with anxiety?
It can be so challenging to watch your young children feel anxious during back-to-school time. The good news is that there are a few different things you can do to provide them with some extra support…
- Talk openly about mental health. Encouraging openness and transparency around mental health topics is one of the best ways to be sure your kids feel comfortable sharing their emotions with you. Normalizing feeling anxiety, as well as ways to combat it, can be very helpful.
- Speak with teachers. If your child feels comfortable with you sharing about their anxiety with their teachers, there may be certain ways that they can provide support in the classroom. Especially if your child’s anxiety comes from something specific, such as a past bullying event, keeping teachers in the loop can be very helpful.
- Focus on quality time. Giving your child something to look forward to can help them get through the day. Whether it be a trip to their favorite park or reading books with you on the couch, think about something special you can do together.
SOS Method Special Formula Meditations are a great way to spend quality time together as a family and support your mental health. Often parents play it through their home speaker systems so that older kids can do it in their own rooms and younger kids can do it with them. You can experience them for yourself with a 7 Day Free Trial of the SOS Method App.