We know that in the best of times, it is completely normal to feel anxious about going back to school. Do I have the right school supplies? Will my friends remember me? Is my new teacher completely burnt-out?  Add in the many layers of ‘back-to-school’ during a global pandemic and things can get pretty tense.

From years of coaching and facilitating in health and wellness – I’ve rounded up 3 tips for reducing back-to-school anxiety:

  1. Self-Awareness

Cultivating self-awareness is one of the key practices in understanding our emotional state. It’s how we interpret and manage that internal dialogue that each one of us has… and probably has had for years, if not decades.

“Name it to Tame it” – from Dan Siegel

Our thoughts can get the better of us, especially when we feel they are spiralling out of control. Self-awareness is a practice, similar to meditation where we take a moment, pause for reflection and label the feeling or emotion that we’re experiencing. Maybe it’s frustration or fear or excitement? UCLA School of Medicine profession Dan Siegel, explains that in order to tame our emotional state, we first have to name what it is that we’re feeling. This process of labeling our emotions supports how it is we want to behave or act. Particularly as we seek to manage negative thoughts or break what we call the ‘stress-whirlpool’.

Calm thoughts – calm actions as we ease into the new school year.

2) Clear Communication:

I’m afraid to return to school“.

By sharing how we are feeling, we start the process of normalizing our emotional state. We pivot from a place of isolation, into connection and a shared experience. We discover that everyone is a little nervous to get back to the classroom. Or we experience an empathetic ear to actively listen as we express our concerns.

When we connect and are heard, it builds confidence and trust, a key element for emotional stability as we go into the unknown.

We also learn through communicating with one another. Maybe others have answers that can eliminate questions that keep us up at night. Yes, there is assembly on the first day and no, you don’t need your gym clothes! Reach out to someone in your class or your teacher if you have questions about your first day or week back at school. Or make a connection if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of heading back into the classroom. You’ll feel better when you connect with others.

3) Be Present

How can mindfulness prepare us for a return-to-school? Mindfulness is being in the present moment, non-judgementally and paying attention. So worrying about what happened in school last year or questioning what might happen in the future, does not bring us clarity, control or comfort. It tends to only create stress.

Being present and in the moment can help us as we head into the new school year. For example, we might mourn what school used to look like. That’s natural and to be expected. This idea of being present is that we acknowledge this emotion of mourning – – we don’t suppress it. We simply meet that thought where it is with no attachment and simply ‘let it go’. We are right here, right now or as Jon Kabit Zinn (the founder of the modern-day mindful movement) would say… Where You Go, There You Are.

Meditation is the tool

So how do we cultivate a calm return to school? All of this is accessible through the practice of meditation. ?‍♀️ It allows us to be in the moment, through intentional breathing and a moment of reflection. If you haven’t tried it and are curious, check out JOT Living on IG. And join us Thursday, September 9 at 8pm EST for a LIVE meditation – accessible and open to all.

Enjoy back-to-school!