Tackling Back to School Anxiety

Written by Dr. Nicole Guzman


Back to school 2020 looks a lot different than what we are all used to. And for many, that means not just the first day jitters but the school year jitters due to the uncertainty that it brings. “Will school re-open?” “If it does, what will that look like?” “How will I feel about that?” Needless to say, these are just some of the questions that might be swirling around in our heads. However, with uncertainty, comes the opportunity to grow. We can learn greater frustration tolerance, flexibility, kindness, and the idea that sometimes our “enough” will be have to “be enough.” And here are some suggestions to make this new school year a bit easier:

First, practice gratitude. This can be for big things or small ones. I for one, am very grateful for a reliable internet connection nowadays! Try making this part of your daily routine. Close your eyes, take some good, deep breaths and think of what you are grateful for. Even for those few moments, you can feel a sense of calm as you allow those positive thoughts and feelings in.

Second, try to focus on the things you can control versus those you cannot. For example, we may have no control over our internet connection but we do have control over our backup plan should it decide not to cooperate. We also have control over our own behavior, which includes our reactions to things. So, when things get rough, remember what is in your control.

Third, instead of focusing on the small things that perhaps are not going the way you intended, zoom out! This means looking at the bigger picture. It is likely that there will be many things about this school year that you wish could be different but if you are able to zoom out, you will see that you and your loved ones are thriving and not just surviving.

Last but not least, aim for acceptance. This means being able to identify and accept the difficult times that are part of life. Instead of wishing for things to go back to “normal,” accept the struggle, learn from it, and know that you are not the only one struggling. And in those most difficult moments, reach out to your support system, especially those that can help you practice the above and make you laugh!


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