It’s that time of year again, the days are starting to get shorter and the lazy summer days are coming to an end. It’s time to head back to school, this can be really exciting, but some can find the transition tricky and it often brings back to school anxiety. This blog explains what back to school anxiety is along with some helpful coping mechanisms and top tips about managing that anxiety.
What is back to school anxiety?
Back to school anxiety is a very common feeling, it refers to the overwhelming feelings of stress and unease around going back to school. It’s very usual to feel this way due to the transition from a relaxed unstructured day within the holidays to going back to a strict academic routine at school. There are a number of ways that back-to-school anxiety comes about, for example.
1. Nervousness: Students may feel a bit jittery in their return especially if they are facing challenging subjects or going to a new school
2. Sleep disturbances: A disruption to sleep patterns can occur when heading back to school, disturbances such as difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep can be common due to certain worries.
3. Physical ailments: some students have headaches, stomachaches, and nausea as a result of anxiety about school.
4. Social anxiety: being afraid of making new friends, peer pressure and social situations can really contribute to anxiety.
Understanding your anxiety
Everyone experiences anxiety in their lifetime, understanding anxiety is key and it means recognising before you delve too far into the hole and doing something about it. Anxiety’s tough but understanding your signs, symptoms, triggers and coping strategies is one of the best ways to manage your anxiety. As well as this, understanding that you aren’t alone and that most of all, don’t be afraid to ask for help or consult a professional as anxiety does have its way of taking over peers will be in the same boat is also important.
Create a relaxation routine
Incorporating deep breathing and relaxation techniques into your daily routine can be really powerful. Try doing some deep breathing exercises to help calm and reduce your stress. These coping mechanisms are super useful to use in times of heightened anxiety. You can also try mindfulness and meditation techniques such as helpful positive affirmations to help get you through the day such as ‘I can do this’, ‘I am strong’ repeat these and direct love and kindness your way.
Try this fun turtle breathing:
Turtles are known for their slow and steady pace and you can tap into their calming energy with this simple breathing exercise. Imagine yourself as a relaxed turtle as you follow these steps:
1. Find a Comfortable Spot: Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. You can close your eyes if you like, or simply focus your gaze softly in front of you.
2. Begin Inhaling: Start by taking a slow and gentle breath in through your nose. Count silently to yourself as you breathe in for a slow count of 4.
3. Pause and Hold: Once you’ve completed your inhalation, pause for a moment. Hold your breath gently for a count of 2. Imagine you’re holding your breath like a turtle might pause in its movements.
4. Exhale Slowly: Now, exhale slowly and steadily through your mouth or nose for a count of 5. As you exhale, imagine you’re releasing any tension or stress, just as a turtle moves unhurriedly.
6. Repeat: Continue this breathing pattern for a few cycles. Inhale for 4 counts, hold for 2 counts, and exhale for 6 counts. Let each breath bring a sense of calm and relaxation, mimicking the unhurried nature of a turtle’s movements.
Plan and prepare
Feeling prepared can really help significantly reduce any and to school anxiety. Take some time to get your school supplies ready, jazz up your school bag, get your uniform clean and ready to go. Have everything you need to feel in control and confident about heading back to school. Perhaps even do this with a friend and build your confidence together. There’s no need to be afraid alone! You may also want to prepare by gradually adjusting back to those early mornings and routines your body will need to adapt to in the upcoming week. It will mean that abrupt shock of going back to school will be reduced. Try going to bed and waking up earlier a week before you go back.
Communication is of utmost importance, talking about your anxiety with someone you trust is essential. You may trust your peers, your family or a teacher at school, but make sure you talk to them about your concerns and fears. It’s important to open up and reach out as more often than not your worries will be put to rest, and you may start to feel a sense of relief realising you are not alone. Those you confide in can also help to offer valuable advice aid support on helping you manage your anxiety.
Reconnect with friends
One of the most cherished aspects of going back to school is reuniting with friends. The summer break might have scattered your social circle, but the start of school brings the promise of laughter, shared adventures and memorable moments. Reach out to friends before school starts to rekindle those connections.
Back-to-school anxiety is a common experience, but it doesn’t have to dominate your school year. By recognising your anxiety, communicating openly, making gradual adjustments, incorporating relaxation techniques, preparing effectively, and seeking professional help if needed, you can take control of your anxiety and enjoy a successful and fulfilling academic year. Remember that it’s normal to feel anxious, but with the right strategies, you can navigate through it and thrive.