Starting a new school year is exciting but it comes with the first day of back-to-school anxiety. It’s a little scary even at the best of times. But managing back- to- school anxiety during coronavirus is a whole new challenge.
Most schools switched to an online or distance learning model in the 2020 school year. Then lockdowns and social distancing guidelines changed our plans for summer vacation. In the fall, some schools remained closed while others tried staggered or hybrid schedules. Now we’re facing yet another change — returning part or full time to schools that look and feel different than before.
Change can be scary. But change is also an opportunity to learn and grow. Being prepared to go back to school and having a plan to manage your anxiety about going back to school will help you rise to the challenge.
We believe in you and stand with you. We’re always here to help you, support you, and cheer you on! That’s why we put together this list of ten tips to ease back -to -school anxiety during coronavirus.
We are living through unusual and unprecedented times. Fear of the unknown is normal. Our brains are designed to protect us from threats, both real and perceived. That’s our natural drive for self-preservation, and it kicks in whenever we feel uncertain, insecure, or anxious. Who hasn’t felt that way at some point during all of this?
We learn more about the coronavirus each day, including the best ways to minimize the risk of transmission. Your school is taking steps to protect your health with new policies about masks, physical distancing, deep cleaning, and when to use virtual or hybrid model classes.
It can be harder for us to handle perceived and unknown threats — the ones we come up with when we imagine worst-case scenarios. The tips that follow are all about managing those fears and anxieties.
A lot of people believe that courage is the opposite of fear. It isn’t. Courage is taking action despite your fear.
Everyone is afraid sometimes. Courage is the decision to not allow your fear to paralyze you or hold you back. That doesn’t mean acting recklessly — it means using all of the resources at your disposal to make the best possible choices. It means staying informed and following your school’s safety guidelines, which have been tailored to fit your community’s needs. It also means following your instincts and making choices that are best for YOU.
It helps to be prepared — to have an idea for how the new school year is going to work and what you need to do to stay safe. A plan sets the expectation for what you are going to do and what others are going to do for you. When everyone is informed and prepared, we are able to work together effectively.
The hazard is when we get stuck in planning mode, or hung up on every last detail of what might happen. Sometimes we dwell on worst-case scenarios, and imagine — in great detail — how we might respond to each and every possibility. In rehearsing for every negative outcome, we trick ourselves into thinking that we’ve “prepared” for them. But these obsessive thoughts are not really accomplishing anything. They’re just draining your energy and making your first
day of school anxiety worse.
Your school has multiple plans in place to address changing circumstances. These likely include a distance learning plan for when traditional classes aren’t possible; a hybrid model for the beginning phases of reopening; and safety plans for when students return to the building — such as temperature checks, one-way halls, partitions, and spaced or staggered seating.
If you’re familiar with your school’s plans, you’ll know what to expect. But don’t endlessly rehash them, or try to come up with every possible scenario. No one knows what the future holds. All we can do is take it one day at a time.
Because we don’t know what the future holds, it’s important to stay flexible. The pandemic has been rapidly developing and changing since the beginning, and there’s no reason to expect that to change. But that’s exactly why your school has more than one plan in place. Your job is to be prepared to adapt to change as needed.
Schools may reopen, then shift back to distance learning or adopt a hybrid model as needed based on your local developments. That’s nothing to fear. It’s good judgment. Remember that any changes are in your — and everyone’s — best interest. And remind yourself that you are strong and capable enough to meet any challenge.
Know where you can go to share your feelings and ask questions as they arise. Your parents, family members, teachers, counselors, coaches, and other trustworthy adults want to help you feel safe and secure.
Your school may have new resources available to help students adjust to the current circumstances. As you prepare for the new school year, find out what kinds of supports are available to you, and if there’s a particular person — such as a designated teacher or counselor — to whom you should bring your questions and concerns. You’ll feel better knowing where to go for information.
Express your emotions in a way that feels good to you. Tap into your creativity and personal flair. What is in your heart? You can share your unique feelings and perspectives through drawing, painting, music, poetry, dance, drama, writing, sculpture — the possibilities are truly endless!
Change can be hard. But change is also an opportunity. Anything that pushes us beyond the edges of our comfort zone is an invitation for us to grow. A creative outlet is a way that you can process and share your journey and honor your strength and resilience.
The pandemic has been hard on everyone. But we rise to meet new challenges. You are strong enough to do hard things. Remind yourself of all the ways you have overcome tough times, and how you continue to do so. Give yourself the credit you deserve!
You can share your art to inspire and motivate others. We would love to see your creations on social media. Tag Free2Luv on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook or join our online communities — they’re safe and judgment-free places to express what’s in your heart. We are here to support you!
And if you need some inspiration, remember to check out our I Define Me moments. They are real stories from real people who have overcome adversity — just like you are right now. You can share your own story to spread LUV and encouragement to others in the community!
Remember — you can’t always control your circumstances, but you can control your reaction to them.
Don’t try to suppress negative or anxious thoughts. They are normal and natural. If you deny them, they will only come back up. Instead, acknowledge them without judgment, and try to find a way to reframe them.
You can reframe negative thoughts by:
Everyone is struggling right now. And while you are not responsible for other people’s thoughts and feelings, you can help them by setting a positive example.
Positivity is contagious. When you show up for others in a supportive, caring, and open way, they feel better! As a result, they will feel more comfortable showing up for the other people in their lives — including you.
When your classmates see you come to school calm, confident, and informed, they will be motivated to do the same. And when you keep the lines of communication open, the people around you will feel more at ease and able to open up themselves. Be an inspiration, and show everyone what’s possible.
At the same time, remember that these are challenging times and everyone is bound to slip up once in a while. Whether that comes out as angry words, a negative attitude, or hurt feelings, now is the time to show yourself and the people around you some grace.
Forgive people for making mistakes. If they are rude or harsh, it’s not because of you. It’s because they hurt — and hurt people hurt people.
And if you find yourself being rude or harsh, own up to it and apologize as needed. Then forgive yourself and move forward. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It means you’re human.
The pandemic has been a learning experience, to say the least. One bright spot is that we have been given an opportunity to show kindness to each other and to ourselves. Let’s take it!
There is an upside to a global crisis like the coronavirus pandemic — we have been unified. We are rising to meet this challenge together. While there are individual differences in how we respond to change, and certain things that seem to divide us, at the end of the day we’re all in the same boat. We’re all looking out for ourselves, our families and friends, our classmates, and our communities in the best ways we know how.
All of the social distancing, staying at home, and distance learning can feel very lonely. And it’s normal to experience back-to-school anxiety during coronavirus. But you are not alone. Whether you’re returning to the classroom, taking classes online, or embarking on some combination of the two, you have the support of your family, friends, teachers, faculty, and community. All of them want what’s best for you physically, mentally, and emotionally.
And now more than ever, your Free2Luv family is here for you too. That means you always have someone to turn to and talk to, and you always have someone in your corner cheering you on. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us on social media and join the conversation!
Remember that love is braver and stronger than hate. And love conquers fear — always.