Whether you're still learning online or integrating back to a traditional classroom setting, you may be experiencing some back-to-school anxiety. School can already be a cause of anxiety for many students, and with the current world health situation, you may be feeling even more on edge. Between the stress to excel and the real concern for public safety, going to school may feel a bit off this year. And if you're learning online, navigating a new digital system can present its own set of challenges. The good news is there are ways for both high school and college students to manage anxiety in any school setting—even during a pandemic. Here are five things you can do to make your school year great despite any back-to-school anxiety concerning the coronavirus.
Respect your own comfort levels
If your campus or high school is returning to standard classes (or even blended/hybrid learning), it's important to prioritize your safety, comfort, and mental health during this time—and always. Different institutions will have different standards for safety and social distancing. If you find you're in an environment that doesn't make you feel safe, you have every right to remove yourself or bring it to the attention of a trusted adult. If you're feeling back-to-school anxiety due to the coronavirus, you won't learn at your best. Your well-being and comfort should always come first.
Avoid putting too much pressure on yourself
During these times, expectations for ourselves and others might be (and should be) different from before. Living during a pandemic is draining, regardless of your circumstances, and you should give yourself a bit of leeway. Even if your teachers and professors aren't the flexible types, remind yourself that they don't know your life, and only you know when you need a rest. If you're always a straight-A student, getting a few B's on assignments here and there isn't a slight on you or your accomplishments. When you reduce the pressure to excel at all times, you may find life to be a bit easier.
Self-care is always essential, especially when you're in a new environment or life situation. A fresh school year brings about changes within itself, not to mention the pandemic creating new expectations and challenges. Take the time to care for yourself and manage your stress in whatever way feels right to you. Habits like journaling, remembering to rest, taking intentional time for friends and family, and exercising are all great ways to practice self-care. Taking those moments to calm and ground yourself can be crucial in relieving anxiety and stress. Whenever you feel back-to-school anxiety rearing up, indulge in activities that balance your mood while avoiding harmful anxiety-induced behaviors. There’s always a better way to practice mindfulness and shift your focus.
Be intentional about your social circle
Creating intentional social time can break down back-to-school anxiety for all students, especially if you're learning online this year. Join clubs and groups, whether they're online or responsibly socially distanced, and have structured social time around activities you enjoy. Both of these things will bring passion and happiness into your life, getting you excited about being a student instead of feeling anxious about it.
Remember your feelings are valid
Don’t avoid your feelings of anxiety—instead, acknowledge them and face them head on. Even though anxiety can feel isolating and lonely, try to remember that you're not alone and plenty of people are experiencing the same feelings as you. Your emotions and experiences are valid, and you deserve the time, effort, and consideration to manage them in a healthy way.
Back-to-school anxiety, like any anxiety, won't be solved in a day. But you can learn techniques and mindsets to help you get through it. School is a place of learning no matter where it happens, and you deserve to feel safe, happy, and healthy while you learn.
For more information and advice to help you ease your worries about the pandemic, visit our COVID-19 student resources page.