Back to School Anxiety
After a few weeks, summer vacation for teens across the country is coming to a close. Hopefully this summer vacation has been a good one with Pokémon Go being released and all. Many teens might be thrilled to go back to school where they are able to see their friends and pick back up in sports, clubs, or other school activities. However, for a portion of those same teens, this return to school may come with a great deal of stress and anxiety. Especially with teens that may experience bullying or have been ostracized in the past due to their appearance, style, sexuality, etc., returning back to school may be especially difficult.
Even those students that don’t experience difficulties at school and are genuinely excited to go back may experience high levels of stress as they prepare to start a new school year. A lot of these students are expected to achieve incredible things which can make them feel an increase in pressure from their parents, friends, and themselves. It’s important to note that teens that strive to achieve a lot, even if they choose to do so voluntarily, may still experience these emotions at the possibility of falling short of their goals.
Likewise, if a teen is starting a new school due to moving, transferring, or graduating, going back to school can be especially difficult. There might be a lot of unanswered questions such as: will I find friends? Will I like my teachers? Will I enjoy the school in general? Teens who are in this situation may silently agonize over the various possibilities for this year. Or, on the other hand, they might be ignoring the idea of a new school all together making it more difficult when they realize school is starting.
If you are a teen, or you know a teen, that might be feeling some stress and anxiety about this upcoming school year, here are some ways that you can help reduce those feelings.
Remember the basics
When we are stressed or feeling high levels of anxiety, it is easy to forget some of the basic things that you do to make sure that you are in the right state of mind.
First and foremost, it is important to make sure you get enough quality food in your diet, and that you get good sleep. Being hungry and sleepy does not go well with being stressed or anxious. It is only going to make you feel worse and be less prepared to handle it in your life.
Likewise, don’t forget your coping skills! As we talked about in a similar post, coping skills are things that you do for fun that make you feel better when you are feeling sad, angry, stressed out, or an array of other negative emotions. Coping skills are things such as reading, writing, listening to music, jogging, biking, playing video games, watching Vine and YouTube videos, drawing, singing, etc. Basically, if you find it fun to do and you feel that they make you feel better, they are coping skills. Don’t forget those things during this time. If you are feeling overwhelming stress and anxiety, make sure to make use of them.
If you are a teen, remember that communication is very important. It is imperative that you fall back on the people that have been your support system all along. This may include parents, family members, teachers, counselors, friends, or anyone that you trust. Go to these people and talk to them openly and honestly about the fears that you may have about this new school year. If you haven’t been at least hinting at it already, keeping all of that stress and anxiety bottled up can make things more difficult for you. A lot of teens experience a sense of relief when they talk about things like this.
If you are an adult in a teen’s life who you suspect is going through some of this, approach them and encourage them to talk to you, or someone else, about everything that is going on. Sometimes all it takes is for an adult to simply reach out and show concern for a teen to open up and talk about things they have been holding back.
Your thoughts and mentality towards the upcoming year can definitely have an impact on how you are feeling. Instead of thinking about all of the bad things that could happen once school starts back up again, perhaps think about some of the good things. Instead of thinking about the fact that you might not be making any friends, think about how you made friends in the past and how you can do that again this time. Instead of thinking about all the time your extracurricular activities will take this year, perhaps think about all of the amazing places and events you will be able to go to because of these activities. It may sound simple to focus on the more positive aspects, and in practice it can absolutely be difficult to do, but those changes can have an amazing effect on you.
Call Teen Lifeline
And, finally, if you find that all of the above possibilities don’t work for you, or you feel that you aren’t able to even attempt them, call us (or in AZ text 602-248-TEEN) here at Teen Lifeline. We understand that what may work for some people may not necessarily work for you. When you call Teen Lifeline the Peer Counselors here will help you figure out what works best in your life. The Counselors will assist you in making a plan that you can follow to reduce some of the stress and anxiety that you might be feeling. The awesome thing about the people that answer the phone here at Teen Lifeline is that they are all teens just like you, between the ages of 15 and 19. They too are going back to school and a lot of them have experienced what you are feeling. So don’t be afraid of calling us thinking that whoever you talk to won’t be able to understand because, trust me, they will. Remember, you are not alone.
For the past four years Luis Barcelo has volunteered thousands of hours for Teen Lifeline as a Peer Counselor. Now, as an adult volunteer and communications intern at Teen Lifeline, he hopes to continue helping struggling teens wherever they may be.