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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth White

Navigating Back-to-School Anxiety: Helpful Coping Skills for Teens

As the summer break comes to an end, many teens find themselves grappling with a mixture of excitement and anxiety as they prepare to head back to school. While the prospect of reuniting with friends and embarking on new learning adventures can be invigorating, it's also completely normal to experience a wave of anxiety or nervousness during this transition. The good news is that there are effective coping skills you can practice to help manage back-to-school anxiety. Let's explore some of these techniques together.

back to school anxiety

1. Recognize and Accept Your Feelings:

The first step in managing anxiety is acknowledging that it's okay to feel anxiety. Recognize that your feelings are valid, and you're not alone in experiencing them. Accepting your emotions can help you create a space for understanding and healing.


2. Plan Ahead:

Feeling unprepared can often fuel anxiety. Combat this by creating a back-to-school plan. Make a checklist of tasks you need to accomplish, such as buying school supplies, organizing your backpack, and setting up your study area. A well-thought-out plan can provide a sense of control and alleviate some worries.


3. Practice Deep Breathing and Mindfulness:

When anxiety strikes, deep breathing exercises and mindfulness can be incredibly effective. These techniques help calm your nervous system and ground you in the present moment. Try inhaling deeply for a count of four, holding for four, and exhaling for four. Focus your attention on your breath and let go of racing thoughts.


4. Break Tasks into Smaller Steps:

Sometimes, the idea of a big project or a long school day can feel overwhelming, creating more anxiety. Break tasks into smaller, manageable steps. Focus on completing one step at a time, celebrating each small victory along the way. This approach can make the challenges ahead seem less daunting.


5. Maintain a Consistent Lifestyle:

Your physical well-being has a significant impact on your mental state. Make sure you're getting enough sleep, eating balanced meals, and engaging in regular physical activity. I know, I know, you hear it all the time, but these habits contribute to a stable mood and increased resilience against stress. It's true that good sleep, balanced meals and getting outside can reduce anxiety.


6. Talk to Someone:

Don't be afraid to reach out and talk about your feelings. Whether it's a friend, family member, teacher, or counselor, sharing your concerns can provide relief and a fresh perspective. You want to talk to someone about anxiety before you start to feel out of control. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.


7. Visualize Success:

Visualization is such a powerful tool for managing anxiety. Close your eyes and imagine yourself successfully navigating the first day of school or acing a challenging test. By creating positive mental images, you can boost your confidence and reduce anxiety.


8. Engage in Relaxation Techniques:

Explore relaxation techniques that work best for you. This could include activities like listening to soothing music, practicing yoga, drawing, journaling, or taking a calming walk outdoors. Engaging in these activities can help divert your mind from thoughts that are increasing anxiety.


9. Stay Organized:

Keeping your school materials, assignments, and schedule organized can significantly reduce anxiety. Use planners, apps, or calendars to stay on top of your commitments. Knowing what lies ahead can prevent last-minute panic.


10. Embrace Mistakes as Learning Opportunities:

It's important to remember that everyone makes mistakes. Instead of fearing them, and letting anxiety take over, embrace mistakes as chances to learn and grow. Cultivating a growth mindset can help you face challenges with a more positive outlook.


As you gear up for the new school year, remember that anxiety is a natural response to change, but it doesn't have to control your experience. By implementing these coping skills and practicing self-compassion, you can navigate back-to-school anxiety with greater ease and confidence. You've got this!

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