Why is back-to-school so stressful?
Going back to school for many means facing the unknown and having to adjust to a new class, a new school, or an entirely new routine. So for many it can be a stressful time 😰
These concerns are often about social situations
It’s the fear of:
- not making friends.
- not knowing anyone in your new class.
- having to socialize with strangers.
- realizing that your relationships with your friends has changed over the summer, and that it’s not what it used to be.
- being judged for your new cloths or haircut.
- how others will view the changes, or lack thereof, in your body.
- being bullied all over again🙅🚫.
Stress is your body’s physical response to let you know that something unpleasant, dangerous, or threatening might happen. If social situations make you feel stressed, it’s probably because you want to avoid being judged, rejected, or humiliated by others, and that is perfectly normal!
Although unpleasant when it’s happening, stress will usually go away once the anxiety-inducing situation is over. For example, you’re super stressed the day before school starts but feel better later that evening when things went better than you expected.
And what if things aren’t going so great?
There are times in everyone’s life when you have to ride out the storm, just try your best not to let it get to you too much while it’s happening, and remember a bad day, or even a bad week, doesn’t mean your whole year will be ruined. Do everything you can not to deal with it on your own! Either confide in someone you trust who will reassure you about the situation passing, or spend time with people who make you feel comfortable.
If you’re being bullied don’t wait to take action, talk to someone you trust at school (a teacher, counsellor, member of staff, etc.) right away so it can stop as soon as possible. For more information about bullying, click here.
Tips for handling back-to-school stress
Remember that it will pass
Every day, you’ll become more familiar and comfortable with your surroundings. Over time, these new things will all become part of your daily routine and will no longer feel so intimidating. You’ll know your way around, get used to your schedule, and start to recognize faces. Little by little, you’ll feel more relaxed and able to be yourself.
Avoid the doomsday-scenario trap
Anxiety makes you imagine the worst-case scenario like waking up to a giant pimple, then missing your bus, then getting there late and falling down the stairs in front of everyone, then being laughed at for being in the wrong classroom, all on the first day of school of course! Imagining these less-than-likely scenarios do nothing good for you, they only feed your stress. Try instead to imagine the alternative ending, not the nightmare scenario. Ask yourself: “what if things don’t turn out so bad?”.
Minimize the unknown
Go to your new school before the year starts. Familiarize yourself with the space, find your bus stop beforehand, find out who will be in your class, or set a meeting place with your friends for the first day of school. Look into extracurricular activities where you can meet new people with similar interests. Do whatever you can to minimize the unknowns that are causing your mind to race. You’ll never know everything in advance, but having what you can figure out figured out, will give you a certain level of comfort.
Instead of constantly telling yourself how stressed you are, try using positive affirmations, like: “it’ll be OK”, “this stress will pass”, “It will get better”, or “this isn’t my first time going through something like this, I’ve always pulled through, and this is no different”.
Boost your self-esteem
Listen to your favourite music, wear clothes that make you feel good, think of the nice things people have said to you, try anything that will boost your confidence if you are going to face a new and stressful social situation.
Remember you are not alone
When it comes to going back to school, remember that your friends are probably just as stressed as you are. Talk to them to remind yourself that you’re not alone in this, and find someone you trust who can be there when you need them. Our forum is also a great place to share your concerns and get support.
Ask for help
Are you feeling stuck? Is back-to-school anxiety interfering with your sleep or daily life? Is it lasting throughout the school year? If so, it might be a good idea to talk to a counsellor.