Back to school anxiety is the worst. You know you have to go (it’s illegal not to) which only makes your anxiety worse, and after a summer of having a break, going back to school can feel like an entirely need, anxiety-ridden experience just like your first day of school back in pre-K.
Despite having excellent grades and tons of friends, back to school anxiety was always a huge struggle for me. After weeks of anticipation and anxiety building up, the morning of can be excruciating. I remember one morning in particular where I was gagging uncontrollably in the bathroom sink just by the mere thought of having to do something “new”. But more importantly, I fought through it each and every year and was completely fine as soon as I arrived. And that’s the key, it’s the buildup that’s causing you so much anxiety. Once you get there, you’ll feel fine. So, here are some things to remember when dealing with back to school anxiety.
Taking Care of Back to School Anxiety
These are the tactics I used for back to school anxiety in both middle school and high school.
1. Take care of as much as you can the night prior
The first thing to do to help back to school anxiety is to decrease the possibility of increased anxiety the morning of. You’ll be anxious anyway, so not having enough time in the morning or not knowing what outfit to wear can make it worse. So, take care of as much as you can the night prior. Have your outfit planned out, your transportation figured out, and your backpack ready. That way, all you have to do is wake up, get ready and go.
2. Wake up early
Chances are you’ll be awake well before your alarm day, thanks to the wonderful back to school anxiety keeping you up all night. Oh, the joys. However, if there is a chance you’ll sleep right through the night, make sure you give yourself a significant amount of time in the morning. Again, this will decrease the amount of anxiety you feel as you scramble around the house.
3. Plan healthy snacks
Being the junk-food junkie that I am, I always made it a priority to eat healthy at times when I was experiencing high anxiety. Unhealthy foods will make you feel worse than you already do. So, plan for a healthy day. Avoid anything that may cause a spike in anxiety, such as high carbs, caffeine and sugar.
4. Have a list of grounding tools in your backpack
The likelihood of you having to use your anxiety grounding tools to treat back to school anxiety is slim. After all, you’ll be fine once you arrive. However, having a little piece of paper that contains all the tools you can use to decrease anxiety at school will give you an extra boost of confidence. So, write your favourite grounding tools down and use them as needed.
5. Know where you’re going to meet your friends
You might say yo don’t have any friends but every has friends. It may be one or it may be fifty; either way, everyone has at least someone they can meet up with once they arrive at school. So, arrange where you’ll be meeting. For me and my friends, we always met at what was called “the smoke pit”, where other kids met at the front doors, by the portables, on the stairs – wherever.
Simply knowing where you can find your friends will make you feel more comfortable as you approach the school.
6. Give yourself a pep talk
When it came to back to school anxiety, I relied on the little pep talk I’d give myself before heading out the door. I’d tell myself,
I’m to be fine, no, I’m going to be great! Back to school is exciting, not nerve-racking. I’ve been going to school my entire life. I know what to expect, who I’m going to see, and I’ve done it for years now. This is nothing. Back to school anxiety is not going to control me today. I am in control.
And remember, as soon as you arrive at school, your back to school anxiety will vanish or at the least, significantly decrease. So, don’t worry too much. You’ve overcome this fear every year since you were young and you can do it again this year.