Here are five tools to help with school anxiety. Back to school can be an exciting time for some students. Some flourish with the idea of exploring their new classroom, classmates, teachers, schedule, and maybe even school. For other students, the start of a new school year can bring on some anxiety.
What will I wear?
Who will I sit with at lunch?
Will my teacher be nice to me?
Will I be able to pass my classes?
The fear thoughts spiral.
Have no fear, you are not alone in these feelings and there are tools you can use to ease the discomfort.
Before the first day of school, take your child to their school and walk around. Look at the classroom, cafeteria, yard, library, and any other location that will be utilized during the school year. Bonus point if you are able to meet the teacher prior to the first day of school.
2. Have a plan.
Make a schedule of what a day at school will look like. This works for students of all ages. It is important to know what to expect from your day. Go overtime to leave the house (allow ample time to not feel rushed), school schedule and a plan for after school. You can even make a paper copy of the daily schedule for your students to keep in their notebook or on their desk so they feel prepared to take on the day. Pick out the outfit for school the evening before, and even be sure to pack your backpack and lunch for the next day. This will help feel prepared and less rushed in the morning,
Allow for your child to bring a small, not distracting object with them. This can be a rubber band to snap when they feel anxious, or a piece of gum to chew (school policy permitting). Whatever the object, ensure that it will not cause a distraction to the student or classmates, but rather serve as a tool used to help release some built up nerves.
4. Use your senses.
Breathe. When you notice your mind racing and your body tensing take that moment to take a big inhale, hold, and a deep exhale out. Repeat this until you feel your body loosen up. Take this time to slowly sip on some water and remind yourself that you are okay. Grounding is a tool that can be done anywhere. Feel your feet on the floor and use your senses. Smell an essential oil (keep lavender oil in your desk or backpack, the smell helps with anxiety), taste the freshness of your water, a mint, whatever you can quickly and quietly eat in your place, touch your desk (or area you are in), feel the texture on your fingers, see something in the room that allows you to refocus (find five things blue, look for circles in the room, you get the idea), listen to the sounds around you, what do you hear at this time?
Sometimes, anxiety can serve a purpose.
When you are feeling anxious, ask yourself what is your body trying to tell you. Are you nervous about an exam? Instead of thinking about the negative side of the anxiety you’re experiencing, use it as a motivator to perform on the test. Sometimes, that extra oomph can be beneficial to performance and energy. Use that anxiety as a hidden tool instead of a hindrance to your performance.