Going Back to School Anxiety: How to Cope





Going Back to School Anxiety: 8 Tips for How to Cope Are you or your kids anxious about going back to school? Are you hoping for a smooth transition back to school? Whether it’s anxiety in kids, anxiety in teens, or anxiety in adults, this post is for you. #backtoschool #anxiety #stressWhether you’re a parent, a student, or a teacher, chances are you’re familiar with back to school anxiety. You may not call it by that name, but you’ve probably experienced it at one time or another.

Perhaps you’ve felt worried or stressed before the school year starts. You may have spent sleepless nights tossing and turning in bed. Maybe you’ve experienced that tight-chested feeling or shortness of breath. Or perhaps you’ve simply felt a bit off, short-tempered, or “down in the dumps.”

I know I’ve been there.

In fact, I experience these very emotions almost every year before school starts.

And it’s not because I don’t like teaching; that’s my favorite part of the job. Instead, it’s the anticipation of a new year, new students, new classes, and new responsibilities that create my anxiety. All that “new-ness” can throw a type A routine-fanatic in a tailspin. 😂

So if you or someone you love experiences back to school anxiety, then you’ve come to the right place. Because today I’m here to share with you 8 ways to quiet those nerves and start the year off strong.

Going Back to School Anxiety: 8 Tips for How to Cope Are you or your kids anxious about going back to school? Are you hoping for a smooth transition back to school? Whether it’s anxiety in kids, anxiety in teens, or anxiety in adults, this post is for you. #backtoschool #anxiety #stress

Back to School Anxiety: 8 Tips for How to Cope

1. Make A To-Do List

A common cause of back to school anxiety is worrying we’ll forget something. We convince ourselves that we’ll overlook some major detail, which will make us start the year behind schedule.

My favorite way to silence that worrying mind is to make a to-do list of everything I need to accomplish. By writing things down, I reassure myself that I won’t forget the tasks, and my chatty mind takes a break.

Going Back to School Anxiety: 8 Tips for How to Cope Are you or your kids anxious about going back to school? Are you hoping for a smooth transition back to school? Whether it’s anxiety in kids, anxiety in teens, or anxiety in adults, this post is for you. #backtoschool #anxiety #stress

2. Share Your Biggest Fear With A Friend

I don’t know about you, but when I stare down anxiety, feelings of overwhelm often take over. I start imagining the worst possible scenario, and soon enough, I’m convinced it will happen.

If you can relate, then do yourself a favor and try talking through those feelings with someone you trust. Because if we don’t take steps to silence that racing mind, it can quickly take over our emotions.

So the next time you start feeling fear take over, spend some time telling a friend about it. Share that “worst-case scenario” that you’ve built up in your mind and don’t skimp on the details.

By talking with your friend and sharing your (often outrageous) story, you realize how unlikely it is that the situation will actually happen. Speaking your fear aloud to someone else helps you remove fear’s power and start focusing on the good instead.

Additionally, this gives you an opportunity to practice if-then statements.

What are if-then statements, you ask? They are a great strategy for creating plans and silencing your worrying mind. Simply state the obstacle, and then offer a simple solution.

For example, IF [worst case scenario X] happens, THEN I will [insert your plan here.]

By coming up with a plan, you kick fear to the curb, and you silence those worrying thoughts.

(Want to know more about if-then statements? Check out my post here!)

3. Distract Yourself

If you or your child experiences back to school anxiety, sometimes distraction is a helpful solution.

Sitting in dread or anxiety for weeks leading up to the first day of school is fruitless. It not only brings you down, but it also depletes your energy.

If you can distract yourself with a new project, outings with friends, or a great book, however, you can stop your mind from spinning out in the worst-case scenario.

4. Exercise

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that exercise plays a big role in my life. It’s part of my morning routine, and it brings a feeling of calm to my everyday life.

When I’m experiencing anxiety, exercise becomes even more valuable.

You see, both stress and anxiety release adrenaline in our bodies. When we take time to exercise, however, we release that hormone, which helps drop our anxiety levels and return us to a state of calm.

Going Back to School Anxiety: 8 Tips for How to Cope Are you or your kids anxious about going back to school? Are you hoping for a smooth transition back to school? Whether it’s anxiety in kids, anxiety in teens, or anxiety in adults, this post is for you. #backtoschool #anxiety #stress

5. Meditate

On the opposite side of the spectrum from exercise, you might also try meditation. Taking time to quiet your mind and tune out everything around you can leave you feeling relaxed and centered.

If you can’t seem to silence your anxious mind, then focus carefully on your breath; try counting each inhale and exhale if you need something on which to focus.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am an AWFUL meditator. I can’t seem to go 30 seconds without a random thought popping into my head, but that’s okay! If you find yourself struggling with that same chatty mind, simply acknowledge the thought and then clear your head once again.

Remember, this takes practice.

6. Lighten up on the caffeine (yes, really!)

Believe me, I hear all of you teachers laughing at this suggestion right now.

“But Paula,” you say, “as a teacher, caffeine runs through my veins.”

I get it. Really, I do.

But here’s the deal; caffeine is a stimulant, which often makes anxiety worse.

So for the weeks leading up to the start of school, try focusing on drinks like water, milk, or decaf tea and coffee. Additionally, foods like berries, yogurt, nuts, and legumes have proved to reduce anxiety as well.

7. Repeat a Mantra

Think of a phrase that brings you feelings of peace.  Then, simply repeat that phrase in your head.

My favorite phrase at the moment is: “all is well.” It’s simple, but it also brings me incredible comfort.

Other mantras might include:

  • I’ve got this
  • It’s all good
  • I can do hard things

8. Focus on the Now

Rather than stressing about what you’re going to do in the next month, week, or day, try focusing on the minutes in which you’re living right now.

Look at the things around you. Consider the temperature of the room. Think about the chair in which you’re sitting. Look at the clouds in the sky or the texture of the wood on your desk.

Then, try to pinpoint the thought that’s causing you to feel anxiety. It probably sounds something like, “there’s not enough time.” “There’s way too much to do.” “The summer went too quickly.” “I am nervous about ___.” etc.

Once you identify that thought, try shifting it to something that serves you better.

Rather than thinking, “there’s not enough time,” try on the thought: “I have enough time to complete what’s most important.”

Instead of thinking, “there’s never enough time,” try on the thought: “Things always get done.”

By shifting those negative thoughts just slightly, you will help relieve the anxiety and start moving forward.


There you have it, friends. If you or anyone you know is experiencing back to school anxiety, then give these 8 strategies a try. You’ll be quieting your anxiety in no time.

Want to keep these strategies on hand? Then download a free PDF version that you can print out and keep with you for whenever anxiety strikes.

Going Back to School Anxiety: 8 Tips for How to Cope Are you or your kids anxious about going back to school? Are you hoping for a smooth transition back to school? Whether it’s anxiety in kids, anxiety in teens, or anxiety in adults, this post is for you. #backtoschool #anxiety #stress

Question:

Do you know anyone who struggles with back to school anxiety? How do you handle anxiety? What strategies would you recommend? Let me know below!

Updated: 7.28.19

58 thoughts on “Going Back to School Anxiety: How to Cope”

  1. I get nervous for my kids going back to school. Can you be my friend I share my biggest fear with? I’m afraid one of my girls won’t have something they need or will miss something important because I forgot something or didn’t know what to do. The to-do list helps with that, but I still worry about it. What if I forget to put something on the to-do list, you know?

    1. I definitely get that, Jordan. When I’m falling into that kind of stress, I actually go to the worst-case scenario in my mind. What would happen if one of your girls didn’t have something they need? What is the ABSOLUTE worst thing that would happen? Chances are, it’s not too big of a deal; your girls are strong and amazing! They would totally be okay 🙂 Sometimes actually naming what would happen, rather than fretting about the “what if” helps me calm my nerves 💜 You got this!

  2. Focusing on the now and exercising are two things I definitely want to implement more in my life in general. These are great tips. It’s always good to have ways to cope with things like anxiety in different situations. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I remember having this myself, every single year. My girls, on the other hand, appear to be excited to go back and see their friends. I’m so grateful for that.

  4. I’m having more than the usual anxiety because my twins are starting middle school. This is a new adventure for us and I think I’ll feel a lot better once they have a few weeks under their belts.

  5. Great tips. I always hated back to school when I was in school. Now for my kids I kind of hate it, but kind of like it since I work from home. But I do miss them being home during the school year, but I certainly get more work done. Thanks for all these great tips.

  6. Such great tips… and even some I can use/share with my kids as they prep for heading back to school in a couple of weeks. It will be a new school for them, so every bit of prep helps!

  7. I don’t think i’ve ever experienced this. Not even in college. But this is a great read for those who have. Getting ready or another school year can be challenging.

  8. I totally struggle with back-to-school anxiety and I’m a homeschool mom. I’d rather deal with it than have my kids go through it, though.

  9. I always hated when it was back to school time, these are really great tips thank you for sharing this post! I will h ave to share this with a few of my friends.

  10. We homeschool, so my kids don’t have to deal with this, but as the teacher, school planner, school janitor I deal with anxiety! It’s been bad lately, I’m working on my oldest’s high school plan plus four other plans for the other kids. These are wonderful tips, Paula! Love them!!!

  11. Tiffanie Westgor

    These are great tips! I can imagine how anxious I would be if I went back to school. The hardest tip is the coffee, but it’s totally understandable that it can actually stimulate anxiety!

  12. As a former teacher I can relate to your post. And like someone else said, this is great advice for anyone dealing with anxiety. I’ve found that eating healthy and moving my body help me when I’m dealing with stress or anxiety.

  13. My Little One hasn’t started school yet (only 1) but I already have mild anxiety thinking about him going to school. I’ll pin these great tips to come back to later. I am going to need them.

  14. Making a hand written to do list is an essential for me! For some reason worsting it out really helps me remember the items even when I’m not looking at the list!

  15. These are great tips! Neither of my boys are school age yet, but a few of these are good universal anxiety-reducing tips, so I’m definitely book-marking this for the future.

  16. Very good tips! So important to be intentional about thinking in the now. My son suffers from anxiety and this was always a battle for him. Taking time to breathe, and realize that you won’t die from it always helped.

    1. Yes, absolutely! Just taking those few extra moments to take deep breaths and collect yourself is so important.

  17. My kids are excited to go back to school, but it’s still 3 weeks away. I’m sure there will be some jitters the day before. I am working on getting them to bed on time and slowly starting to wake them up earlier to help with the transition.

    1. That’s terrific! I love hearing when kids are excited to go back 🙂 And it’s great that you’re helping ease them back into the routine. I’m sure that will be incredible helpful !

    1. Yes, absolutely! I think it works for anyone experiencing anxiety about upcoming change 🙂

  18. These are great tips for back to school, before a big job interview, first day at work or first date, you name it! Love how it can be applied to so much in life.

    1. It’s great that you don’t battle with back-to-school anxiety too much! I agree – anything new and unfamiliar can add a bit of anxiety to the plate.

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