5 tips for coping with Back to School Anxiety!

September is one of my favourite months in the year because, even more so than the new year, I feel like September is a 'fresh start' and an opportunity to reset my routines. However, after years as a student myself and then several more years as a teacher, I know that September and 'back to school season' can bring with it nerves, stresses and even anxiety. 

Whether you're going back to school or starting at university this year (as a student, teacher or as even a parent supporting a student), here are a few simple exercise that I've always found super helpful for managing and moving through those anxious feelings that sometimes crop up during seasons of change...


Focus on your breath. 

For many people, one of the physical symptoms associated with anxiety or panic attacks is shortness of breath; if you're feeling anxious, try closing your eyes and focusing on slowing and deepening your breathing. Sometimes this simple action alone is enough to slow down your mind and help ground you in the moment so you can look at the situation more rationally.

Bring yourself into the moment through your senses.

A popular grounding method is the '5,4,3,2,1' method where you bring yourself back into the moment, and refocus your mind on something else, through your senses. List five things you can see, four you can feel or touch, three you can hear, two you can smell and one you can taste.

What's the worst that could happen?...

And if that did happen, how could you deal with it? Anxiety is linked to our fight or flight sense, and sometimes that means our mind imagines the worst possible (and more often than not, highly unlikely) scenario. Try to counter these thoughts by asking yourself what really is the worst thing that could potentially happen, and if that did happened, what could you do to overcome it or move past it. 

Write what you're thinking.

Talking about what you're feeling is always the best way to get out of your own mind, but sometimes that's not always possible or maybe you're not ready. Writing a stream of consciousness in the notes on your phone or iPad can really help to organise your thoughts. When you're finished, read back over them and try to look at them from a different perspective... if someone else came to you with these feelings or worries how would you support them or what advice would you offer them?

Take it one day at a time.

Change is challenging; be patient with yourself, respect your feelings and take this one day at a time. Try not to set yourself too much to do in the first weeks of your new routine and don't be too hard on yourself if you are struggling. Make time for yourself, plan self-care in your free time, and at the end of a hard day, put it down and remember you can start fresh again tomorrow.
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