Do you have a mix of excitement and anxiety about the school year? Or, is it only dread? We have all been doing the back-to-school thing for years and years. But, it’s always a little different and unknown as a result. Summer is when we rest the academic and social parts of our minds. We tend to spend less time with friends and peers. On top of that, most folks don’t spend any time studying. The rest is precious and fun and means there’s a big uptick in our engagement and need to focus as we return to school.
Of course, these past couple of years have been especially bumpy. Some students have worn masks and experienced in-person classes for a long time now. Yet, others have only attended a few (if any) in-person classes. Additionally, this fall we are starting our second full year influenced by the stress of COVID. That’s all on top of normal developmental leaps that happen every year in school and college. With all this stress, it’s no wonder families may seek anxiety treatment for support.
Developmental Obligations and Opportunities
Normal transitions between grades are always a push for our anxiety. Each year we experience new challenges, learn new things, and push ourselves to grow. Of course, this is how we evolve and is inevitable because we are humans. But, as much as we all revere change, growing, and education it is also pretty uncomfortable at times. By uncomfortable, I mean we don’t always like it and it is oftentimes not easy.
Our Nature Obligates Us to Grow and Change
Think about the reality of this. To grow and change we have to try things we will fail at. In fact, we may fail many times before we will succeed. Our development obligates us to learn and try even when we will most likely fail at first. The other piece of the obligation is to learn that it is safe to fail. Doing so helps us to trust ourselves and our support system to help us get up when we fall.
When we look at going back to school we know then that there are tremendous opportunities ahead of us. But, there are also imminent failures and disappointments. The challenges are likely to spread the gamut of academic, social, emotional, and physical developmental leaps and struggles. This is the primary piece that makes returning to school so challenging. But, it is also what makes it so exciting! Students go into the new year as one version of themselves and finish the year an evolved version.
When we add COVID pandemic complications to the developmental gains it can be a bit much for some. COVID has disrupted our routines. We lack the support that makes us feel stable enough to make those big gains overcome failures. It is harder. It is doable, but it is harder. Additionally, the underlying uncertainty that the pandemic brings into our communities adds a lot of stress. We know that long-term stress can become anxiety and impact our developmental successes. It may not, but it can.
WHAT TO DO
Maximizing Fun and Success this Fall
Here are 3 things to do this fall for all students to make it better:
Start the year talking and thinking about the focus of the year. The focus can be trying new things, failing, and succeeding at new things. Talk about how we fail. Talk about how we feel disappointed. This does not mean how we get rid of the feeling of disappointment, but how we decide to feel it. And, how we learn from failure and still feel good about ourselves.
Make Goals & Celebrate Them
Once you’ve gotten your head around how to think about such an intense year, set some fun goals or goals you’ll feel good about. Pick goals you could likely meet but that you would still feel good about. This can help you create clear finish lines and markers for success. Positive affirmations are huge in learning and rewiring our brains to move toward challenges. Often we move on to the next goal before we celebrate what we finished. This is a disservice to our long-term learning habits and brain function.
Don’t do it Alone
Who will be your team? Your team may be family or a good friend. Or, it may be your dog and your sports teammates. If you’re worried about how your year will go, you may want to look into starting anxiety treatment. Not because you’re a mess, but because you want to set yourself up for the most success and least distress. We are not meant to be alone in our struggles and the central tenant of all mental illness is isolation. Let people in, even if it’s only your therapist. Letting people into the hard stuff is a game-changer.
This applies to adults heading out of summer too.
The shift from the summer ease into the productivity of the fall is exciting, demanding, and hard. Life should be hard sometimes, it has to be for us to grow. Let’s acknowledge what is likely to be hard and prepare accordingly.
Begin Anxiety Treatment in Boulder, CO
We understand the stress new beginnings can bring. A therapist or counselor can offer you support from our Boulder, CO-based counseling practice. Anxiety treatment can equip you and your child with coping tools for whenever symptoms arise. To start your counseling journey, follow these simple steps: