9 Ways to Reduce Back to School Anxiety

Anxiety is a very common issue among college students. In 2018 the American College Health Association held a study, which showed that 63% of students felt overwhelming anxiety.

These numbers are pretty high and they were taken before the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of students nowadays come back to campus after a long period of online education, a completely different experience. Others just start their freshmen year, which can be extremely stressful. Feeling a bit anxious is quite normal, but it is important not to let this consume one. Here are several ways to reduce back-to-school anxiety and feel more calm and prepared.

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Identify Reasons

Yes, it is not always possible to pinpoint the causes as there can be many reasons why one can worry about a new semester. But narrowing down the triggers will help to find support measures and procedures. Think about the most worrying factors: course overload, making friends, moving out, COVID-19 concerns, etc. Write them down and try to find solutions. For example, if you worry about written assignments, try a professional essay writing service for help with assignments. Even the thought that there is help out there will reduce the internal tension dramatically.

Worried about making friends in the first year? Try to connect online with someone in the same course. Write down extra-curricular groups with the same interest you can join. And join the social media groups of the college to communicate with others.

Learn About Campus Resources

The next step is to know what resources are available for you whether you need them right now or not. It also serves the purpose of knowing that there is somewhere to go to. Depending on the college, you can check out:

  • College mental health services, like help groups or free counseling;
  • Telehealth appointments and therapy for students;
  • Workshops, online seminars, resources, and other counseling center services;
  • Crisis hotlines – just have them somewhere easily found.

Create Support Group

Social connections are one of the key factors that can help to reduce stress and anxiety. Simply said—it is good to talk to someone. Be intentional about your social circle. Talk to people you are comfortable with, set a meeting the first week of college, reach out online beforehand, etc.

Remember about all people you can talk to at any time—family members, old or new friends. Talk to other students, they are probably going through the same thing right now. Venting might be the way to feel normal about your concerns.

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Do Not Pressure Yourself

It is important to be cautious and respectful of your own comfort levels and resources. Do not put too much pressure on being the best students, reaching all the goals, or taking an immense number of courses.

Be realistic about your workload and what you can do. Learn to say now to others and not to be your own tyrant.

Get Back Into Routine

Another useful tip is to get ready for college steadily weeks prior. Start to prepare your mind and body for ‘student mode’. First of all, get the sleep schedule back in order. If you often stay up late, try to go to bed 30 minutes earlier every 3-5 days until you are on a normal pattern.

Be active physically for about 60 minutes a day. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a workout, walking outside can do the trick.  

Make It Feel Like Home

This one is especially important for freshmen students. When moving to a new place, whether it is a dorm or a rental, it can feel quite foreign. You will be more comfortable and safe if you try to make it more home-like. 

Bring one or two small but emotionally valuable things from home. Display pictures with friends or family where you are happy. Set spaces for work and relaxation; make the bed comfortable, buy some accessories in your favorite color/style.

Have a Crisis Plan

Stress situations can happen to anyone. So if you feel like you can get overwhelmed, prepare an action plan for such a case. It should include techniques and things that work for you and help to reduce anxiety, such as:

  • Breathing exercises (with or without using a mobile app for that);
  • Stress-relieving toys;
  • Journaling;
  • Music that calms you down;
  • Physical activity, like walking, doing push-ups, etc. to switch your mind from the problems;
  • Favorite snacks or beverages (non-alcoholic);
  • Emergency contact on speed dial.

Make sure those things are available.

Do Not Avoid or Suppress

The worst thing one can do with anxiety is trying to avoid the feeling or suppress it. It doesn’t go anywhere, just sits inside and grows bigger and scarier.

Remember that your feelings are valid and matter. Address them early before they become too huge to handle. Try to be critical about catastrophic thoughts like “everyone will hate me”, “there is no way I can pass this subject” or “I will fail my exams”. Those are fear rather than valid opinions, get back to reality.

Incorporate More Positive Things

Our minds are heavily influenced by what surrounds us. Sometimes even watching a comedy show can help to feel more relaxed. Try to have more things that make you happier or at least not sad or anxious. It can be anything, from re-watching your comfort show (like Office or Community) up to devoting more time to your hobby.

Make it a part of a self-care routine. Focus on positive aspects of the college experience that are to come. Get excited by buying new supplies (it almost always works like a charm) or new outfits.

In Summary

Back to school anxiety is a very common occurrence among students. After a long break, it is hard to get back on track. Especially if almost the whole previous year of college was digital. Try to get back to the college sleeping schedule, make sure your helping resources are available, and create a support group of friends and relatives. Practice self-care and incorporate more things that make you happy in everyday life.

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