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Tips for Teens – Back to School Anxiety

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Group of teens carrying backpacks walking to school

School begins in just a few weeks. As school is approaching, you may find yourself getting anxious about a number of things, from who you are going to have classes with to whether or not to wear a mask at school this year. The new school year can be extremely anxiety provoking to think about – especially the first day of school as you get back into the academic routine. Here are a few tips to help yourself work through back to school anxiety.

1. Create a relaxing playlist: 

Anxiety often can feel really overwhelming and chaotic. When we think about feeling this way, it can help to think about what would be the opposite of overwhelming and chaotic. Oftentimes, this is feeling relaxed and calm. It would be helpful to create a relaxing playlist that involves a variety of songs and sounds that are calming to you. This can look different for each person, so think of songs that have helped you relax in the past or that have calmed you down in the past. This can also include putting a variety of songs on a playlist, such as calm ocean waves, the sound of rain, or white noise. 

2. Deep breathing: 

Taking deep breaths can be helpful to calm you down. Deep breathing has been shown to relax and calm down your nervous system. The great thing about deep breathing is that it can be done anywhere and at any time! It is very inconspicuous. If you try deep breathing, a recommended technique is to breathe in through your nose and to breathe out of your mouth. It is also recommended that you breathe in through your nose for a longer amount of time than you are breathing out through your mouth. 

3.Reach out to support: 

It can be helpful to talk to someone that you trust about your anxieties and worries about the upcoming school year. This can be a friend, family member, trusted adult, or therapist. Talking to someone about your fears, worries, and anxieties can be helpful to work through and process your emotions. It can also help to talk about it because it can help us feel more connected to other people, and less alone. If you talk to your friend about the first day of school introductions and icebreakers, you may realize that they feel the same way that you do. It can also be helpful to talk through these things with your therapist in order to explore coping skills and techniques that you can use at school. 

4.Practice first day introductions: 

As a student, it is a norm to have to participate in the first day of school introductions and icebreakers. Sometimes icebreakers and introductions are random, and sometimes they are very general and open ended. It can help if you take some time to think ahead and practice what you are going to share with the class prior to the first day of school. Take some time to identify three facts about yourself that you are open to sharing with others. After identifying the three facts about yourself, you can practice introducing yourself to your classmates at home, either in front of a mirror or in front of an audience.

You can begin by stating, “Hi, my name is _____,” and then proceed to share your facts. It can also be helpful to visualize yourself doing this on the first day of school and also using one of the other techniques above, such as listening to your relaxing playlist before the introductions or doing some deep breathing before the introductions. 

Each of these things can be helpful in working through the first day of school anxiety. If you find that you are struggling with general anxiety or social anxiety more often than not, then it may be helpful to reach out to a therapist for extra support. 

Nina Iraheta wears a light blue sweater and has long dark hair streaked with blonde. She has a bright, kind smile.

About Nina Iraheta

In my free time I like to read, hang out with my cat, and attend live shows. I love a good suspense/thriller book, however I also love to spend the night singing along to my favorite artists at live shows! I also love to enjoy nature, go hiking, and it is a hope of mine to visit all of the national parks in the United States!

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