As summer is winding down, we and/or our children might start to experience feelings of stress or anxiety related to the fear of the unknown. We may experience the “back to school blues” which is not uncommon and can be a mix of emotions including sadness, anxiety, or stress associated with returning to school after a break.
Recognizing anxiety related to returning to school is important so that you can address it effectively. Know that it’s normal to feel a bit down or anxious about going back to school. Try not to be too hard on yourself for having these emotions. An antidote to these feelings can be sharing your feelings with someone you trust, such as a friend, family member, or teacher. For some, talking about your emotions can be cathartic and provide some relief. Recognize that everyone’s experiences are different, and it’s okay to have your own unique feelings about going back to school.
It can be helpful to ease into any new routines. Perhaps, start getting back into your school routine a few days before the official return by adjusting sleep schedules gradually to make the transition smoother. Prioritize getting enough sleep to ensure you start the school year feeling refreshed and ready to learn! New transitions can be tough. Understand that the beginning of the school year might come with some adjustments. Be flexible and open to new experiences.
Planning a fun activity or outing during the first week of school can allow everyone to have something fun to look forward to that can uplift you and your child’s spirits! Also, try to make time for activities your child enjoys outside of school. Hobbies can be a great way to de-stress and take your mind off any negative feelings.
Instead of dwelling on the negatives, try to focus on the positive aspects of returning to school. Talk to your children about seeing their friends again, engaging in activities they enjoy, or learning new things. Encourage your child to reach out to friends they haven’t seen during the summer break. Reconnecting with familiar faces can make the return to school feel more comfortable.
Make self-care a priority by engaging in activities that help you relax and reduce stress, such as exercise, hobbies, or mindfulness practices. Practice self-compassion. Know that it’s okay to feel a bit low at times, and it’s essential to treat yourself with kindness, and give yourself grace!
If you are struggling with any aspect of the return to school, or if you are a caregiver who is noticing heightened levels of stress or anxiety in your child, don’t hesitate to seek support from teachers, counselors, or an administrator. Remind yourself that the “back to school blues” are often temporary. As you settle into the routine, you may find that these feelings subside. If you or your child’s feelings of sadness or anxiety persist and significantly impact their daily life, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. It’s essential to take care of your and your children’s mental well-being just as much as one’s physical health.
Tips and Tricks
Use the acronym F.E.A.R. to help you through a situation that makes you anxious.
- Feeling Frightened? What are you feeling in your body?
- Expecting Bad Things To Happen? What thoughts are you having right now? What is your self-talk?
- Actions and Attitudes That Can Help! What is an action you can take in this situation? What is a coping tool you can try? What is some positive self-talk you can use?
- Results And Rewards: How did it go?
Reward yourself for using your FEAR steps!
Signs of Anxiety
Here are some signs of anxiety to look out for:
- Physical Symptoms: Anxiety can manifest physically. Look out for signs such as headaches, stomachaches, nausea, muscle tension, rapid heartbeat, sweating, or trembling.
- Sleep Disturbances: Anxiety may disrupt your sleep patterns. You might have trouble falling asleep, experience restless nights, or wake up frequently.
- Changes in Appetite: Some people may eat less or more than usual when anxious about going back to school.
- Irritability and Mood Swings: Feeling irritable, on edge, or having frequent mood swings can be a sign of underlying anxiety.
- Avoidance Behavior: If you find yourself avoiding conversations or thoughts about going back to school, it could be a sign of anxiety related to the upcoming event.
- Excessive Worrying: Constantly thinking about what could go wrong or fixating on negative outcomes concerning school is a common sign of anxiety.
- Social Withdrawal: Anxiety might make you want to withdraw from social interactions or avoid gatherings with classmates or friends.
- Negative Self-Talk: Pay attention to your internal dialogue. If you frequently have negative thoughts about yourself, your abilities, or the upcoming school year, it could be anxiety-driven.
- Physical Restlessness: Feeling fidgety, having difficulty sitting still, or being easily startled can be signs of anxiety.
- Excessive Need for Reassurance: Constantly seeking reassurance from others about school-related matters may indicate anxiety.
- Difficulty Concentrating: Anxiety can make it hard to focus on tasks, including school-related work.
Know that anxiety is a natural response to new situations, but it doesn’t have to overwhelm you. By taking proactive steps and seeking support when necessary, you can navigate back-to-school anxiety and make the most out of your school year.
Going back to school is an opportunity for growth, learning, and making new memories!