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Navigating the transition from summer to school: Coping with back-to-school anxiety.

Updated: Aug 25, 2023


Image of a coping with back to school anxiety graphic

As the carefree days of the summer end, the idea of the new school year can be very overwhelming and bring about a wide range of emotions. The transition from the laid-back vibes of the summer holidays to the structured routine of the school year can be challenging for many students. Back-to-school anxiety is a common phenomenon therefore, this post will discuss several steps and effective strategies which can be applied to cope with these feelings, making the transition smoother.


1- Acknowledging your feelings

Its normal to feel a mix of emotions towards the new upcoming year. After all it’s a change and something unpredictable. Often students feel both excitement but also fear especially as moving up a year group tends to involve increased academic pressure. Students that have had negative previous experiences within the school environment tend to feel intense worry and nervousness towards their return. But acknowledging these feelings without judgement and accepting that they’re normal emotions that every student experiences, is a vital step to accept your feelings and prepare for the upcoming year.


2- Stay connected.

Often keeping in touch with other classmates over the summer can help reduce anxieties over the return to the new school year. You may even find comfort in sharing your fears and anxieties with others, as often they’ll be feeling the same way because they’re going through the same transition so, expressing these feelings with them can help you to feel less alone in your emotions.


3- Preparation

Preparing for the upcoming year is a good way to help you feel more relaxed. This can include making a list of necessary school supplies, planning your school routine, and setting achievable goals. Doing so helps you to get organised and set in line what you want to achieve over the upcoming school year, bringing ease and reducing uncertainty.


4- Mindfulness

If you are experiencing intense feelings of anxieties towards going back to school, it’s important that you practice mindfulness exercises and relation techniques such as, deep breathing or meditation which can help to manage stress and reduce anxiety. It’s useful to practice these techniques during moments of heightened anxiety to bring yourself back to calmness.


5- Gradual adjustment

A good tip to prepare for the upcoming year is to adjust your schedule in line to fit your term time schedule. For example, start waking up at similar hours to what you will be doing in school. Often pupils wake up much later in the summer holidays which makes it harder to get back into the school routine when September comes around, therefore doing this earlier makes it less of a shock and easier to cope when the transition arrives.


6- Set realistic expectations.

Avoid setting overly high expectations for yourself, don’t strive for perfection. It’s normal to have setbacks throughout the school year. For example, you may get back a grade you’re not happy with. However, it’s about how you overcome this and move past it. For instance, you could make a list of where you went wrong and things you can do better/change to prevent this from happening during your next class assessment.


7- Break tasks into manageable steps

Another highly important coping mechanism which can be applied during the school year is to break large tasks or assessments down into smaller more manageable tasks. Tackling one step at a time can help you to feel less overwhelmed and attempt a task more efficiently.


8- Seek help.

If back-to-school anxiety becomes increasingly persistent and overwhelming don’t hesitate to seek help. School counsellors, teacher, family/friends, and mental health professionals are there to offer guidance and support and you’ll often find it to be more common than you think as it’s something they deal with regularly and may have had experience with it themselves, making you feel less alone.


In conclusion, the transition from the carefree days of summer to the structured routine of the school year can be a challenging time, often accompanied by back-to-school anxiety. This is a normal part of the process, and it's essential to acknowledge these feelings without judgment. By following the steps and strategies outlined in this blog, such as staying connected with classmates, preparing, practicing mindfulness, gradual adjustment, setting realistic expectations, breaking tasks into manageable steps, and seeking help when needed, you can navigate this transition more smoothly.


Remember that you're not alone in these feelings, and many others are going through the same experience. The support of friends, family, teachers, and mental health professionals is readily available to help you manage any persistent or overwhelming anxieties. By taking one step at a time and implementing these coping mechanisms, you'll be better equipped to face the new school year with confidence and resilience. Embrace this period of growth and learning; and remember that it's okay to ask for help when you need it.


To find out how we can provide support to help manage any persistent or overwhelming anxieties, visit https://www.bmindfulpsychology.co.uk/our-services.


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