Written by: Kelcey O'Brien

Navigating back to school anxiety

It is not uncommon for students to experience heightened anxiety during this transition period. In this blog post, we will explore some effective strategies to help manage and alleviate back-to-school anxiety. 

  1. Arrive Early to Settle In: One effective way to ease back into the school routine is by arriving early on the first day back. This allows students to familiarise themselves with the school environment without the added stress of rushing through crowded hallways. Taking the time to find their way around, locate classrooms, and settle into their surroundings can significantly reduce feelings of anxiety. 

Why it works: Arriving early provides students with an opportunity to gradually acclimate to the school environment, reducing the sense of unfamiliarity and uncertainty that can contribute to anxiety. By familiarizing themselves with their surroundings, students gain a sense of control and confidence, which can help alleviate anxiety. 

  1. Arrange for a Handoff: Transitioning back to school after a break can be smoother with the help of a handoff. This could involve having a trusted teacher member accompany the student into school on the first day, providing support and reassurance during this time of transition. Knowing that someone familiar is there to help can help alleviate anxiety and provide a sense of security. 

Why it works: Having a school support system in place can provide students with a sense of safety and reassurance, which can help reduce anxiety levels. Knowing that they have someone they trust by their side can ease fears about facing the challenges of returning to school after a break. 

  1. Get Back into Routines Before School Starts: Before the start of the school term, it is beneficial for students to gradually ease back into their routines, including bedtime, morning, and mealtime routines. Returning to familiar schedules can help reduce the stress and anxiety associated with the transition back to school. Establishing consistency and predictability in daily routines can provide a sense of stability and comfort for students. 

Why it works: Routines provide structure and predictability, which can help reduce feelings of anxiety by creating a sense of stability and familiarity. Returning to established routines helps students transition more smoothly back into the school environment, reducing the stress associated with change. 

  1. Meet New Teachers Beforehand: If there are new teachers or unfamiliar faces at school, arranging to meet them beforehand can help ease anxiety about the upcoming school term. This allows students to familiarize themselves with their teachers, ask any questions they may have, and establish a rapport before the school year begins. Building a positive relationship with teachers can contribute to a supportive and nurturing learning environment. 

Why it works: Meeting new teachers beforehand allows students to establish a sense of connection and familiarity, which can help alleviate anxiety about the unknown. Building a positive relationship with teachers fosters a supportive learning environment, where students feel valued and understood, reducing feelings of anxiety and stress. 

Incorporating these strategies into your back-to-school routine can help alleviate anxiety and facilitate a smoother transition for students returning to school after the holidays. Remember, it is normal to feel anxious during times of change, but with the right support and coping strategies, students can navigate this transition with confidence and resilience. 

About the author
Kelcey O'Brien
Kelcey is a provisionally registered psychologist with a Master’s in Applied Neuroscience who has experience working with children, adolescents, and young adults. She works in the areas of Autism, ADHD, OCD, emotion regulation, anger, anxiety, depression, and learning difficulties.
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