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How To Deal With Anxiety At School

Develop Better Sleep Habits

How To Deal With Anxiety In School

Maintaining good sleep hygiene is hard. As a high school student, you dont have a lot of control over your schedule school starts at a certain time, extracurriculars and part-time jobs may dominate your after-school hours, and then theres homework, a social life, and family obligations to juggle.

However, its well worth the effort to prioritize your sleep and maintain a consistent sleep schedule. A good nights sleep provides your body and mind with a solid foundation from which to approach the next days tasks. As a teenager especially, youre still growing and developing, and your body needs sleep to do this optimally.

One step that you can take is to try to eliminate things that can disrupt your sleep, such as light and sound. You may want to invest in tools that help you control these factors, such as light-blocking curtains, eye masks, earplugs, or white-noise machines. You should try to keep your room at a comfortable temperaturebeing too hot or too cold can also disrupt your sleep.

Caffeine can also be a problem for high-school students who depend on coffee or energy drinks to get through the day. Not only can excessive caffeine cause health problems, but getting too much caffeine, especially late in the day, can seriously affect your sleep. Try tracking your caffeine intakeyou may be surprised at how much youre ingesting.

Concerns About Friends Bullies And More

Sometimes, kids are anxious or worried about the upcoming school year because of experiences with bullies. For many kids, this time away from school was a welcome reprieve from mean behavior and cutting remarks. So, as the new school year approaches, they may begin to worry that they will have to go through the same experiences again.

Kids also might be stressed about appearance-related issues. Children from underserved communities and/or those living in poverty may worry about not having the right clothes or supplies. Other kids may worry about how others will view them especially if they have experienced weight changes, are now wearing glasses, have developed acne, or have recently gone through puberty.

Other common stressors include having a falling-out with a close friend, getting cut from a sports team, dealing with a new learning environment, being assigned to a difficult teacher, and not getting into higher-level courses.

There are countless reasons why kids may experience anxiety and stress as the first day of school approaches. Their reasons are as unique as they are.

Dont Avoid Things Just Because They Make A Child Anxious

Helping children avoid the things they are afraid of will make them feel better in the short term, but it reinforces the anxiety over the long run. If a child in an uncomfortable situation gets upset, starts to crynot to be manipulative, but just because thats how she feelsand her parents whisk her out of there, or remove the thing shes afraid of, shes learned that coping mechanism, and that cycle has the potential to repeat itself.

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How Parents And Caregivers Can Help

Parents or guardians must:

  • notify the school, preschool or care service if their child has depression
  • complete health care plans and agreements with their health care professionals and provide them to the school, preschool or care service
  • provide required medication to the school, preschool or care service.

If a medication agreement is in place, parents and caregivers must fulfil the roles and responsibilities outlined on the medication management and care page.

Come Up With A Plan Rather Than Letting Them Off The Hook

The Primary Pack: How to Handle Back to School Stress

If your anxious child tells you they can’t do something, it’s easy to let them avoid it. Total avoidance of anxiety-producing situations does not work in the long run. Come up with a plan to slowly get your child or teen to fully participate in the situation that causes them anxiety. The term for this is “exposure therapy.”

You can work with a mental health expert such as a therapist or psychologist to come up with an appropriate exposure therapy plan for your child. An example of such a plan is if your child is refusing to go to school, your child begins by attending school for only one hour a day, then slowly increase the amount to cover a full day.

Also Check: Is Overthinking A Sign Of Anxiety

Consider Getting A 504 Plan

A 504 plan is a plan for accommodations for a physical or mental disability. If your child has a medical diagnosis of an anxiety disorder, a 504 plan may help them to access a higher level of classroom accommodations than without such a plan. It also helps to ensure that any modifications that are agreed on will be followed by the school.

Try To Keep The Anticipatory Period Short

When were afraid of something, the hardest time is really before we do it. So another rule of thumb for parents is to really try to eliminate or reduce the anticipatory period. If a child is nervous about going to a doctors appointment, you dont want to launch into a discussion about it two hours before you go thats likely to get your child more keyed up. So just try to shorten that period to a minimum.

Also Check: Does Anxiety Make It Hard To Breathe

Beating The Playground Blues

Some kids find the playground more challenging than the classroom. If this is the case for your child there are ways to ease them back in, to what can be a social minefield. Play dates ahead of time are a great way of building the allimportant friendships children need to support each other and have fun. Another option is to socialise by playing a game with other kids online. We understand parents’ concern about kids playing online and you can feel confident they will always remain anonymous on while on Reading Eggs.

Assure Them They Aren’t Alone

How To Deal with Back to School Stress and Anxiety

Remind your kids that they’re not the only ones who may be nervous about starting school again. Other students are likely to be just as anxious as they are about the first day of school. Reassure them too, that the teacher knows kids are nervous, and will probably spend time helping students feel more comfortable as they settle into the classroom.

If your child is concerned about reconnecting with friends they haven’t seen in months, arrange some playdates. Helping your children reconnect with old friends or strengthen bonds with new ones not only reduces anxiety and stress but also can help your child start the year off on the right foot.

Keep in mind that living through the pandemic may have accentuated feelings of isolation and loneliness in kidsespecially if they have been cut off from many of their peers since the start of the pandemic.

Do what you can to reconnect them with their peerseven if it’s virtually for now. In some schools, you can get a class list, which can help you in knowing who to connect with.

But if your school district restricts access to this list, try posting in school community groups online in order to connect with other parents with children in your child’s class. If your child is anxious about not being in the same class with old friends, reassure them that they can still stay in touch.

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Tips For Dealing With Stress And Anxiety

Of course, the best way to address stress and anxiety is often simply to encourage your child to talk to you about what is troubling them. Listen without judgment and validate their feelings. Sometimes, expressing their feelings is all a child needs to feel better.

Another great way to ease some of your child’s anxiety about going back to school is to get your home ready for the transition. Strategies such as planning school lunches ahead of time or establishing a comfortable homework area can help make kids feel more in control and relieve some of their anxious feelings.

Strategies To Help Overcome Social Anxiety

So what can children do to overcome anxiety as they return to school? Here are some useful tips.

  • deal with some of the physical symptoms. It is hard to think if your body is stressed. Use calming strategies like mindfulness or breathing exercises. Slowing your breathing can reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, anger and confusion. Useful apps to help you control your breathing include Smiling Mind or Breathing Bubbles

  • anxiety increases while using avoidance techniques such as avoiding eye contact, not raising your hand to answer a question or not attending school. So the most effective way to deal with social anxiety might be to face it. Allow your child to have small experiences of social success give their opinion to one person, start a conversation with someone they know so they can learn to feel safe in these social situations

  • fear and anxiety are normal and benefit us by helping us to respond efficiently to danger. Rather than read your body as under threat, think about the changes as helpful. Your body is preparing you for action

  • while avoiding your fears is not the answer, being fully exposed to them is not the answer either. Providing overwhelming social experiences may lead to overwhelming fear and failure, and may make anxiety sufferers less likely to try again – or at all. Start small and build their courage

  • What we think is truth is often revealed as untrue when we face our fears. There is joy in social situations. Keep turning up to them.

    Recommended Reading: How To Deal With Anxiety Attacks Naturally

    Use Your Journey To School To Your Advantage

    When anxiety and negative worries crop up, its usually in times when were stationary or were not very busy. Pockets of free time are breeding grounds for anxious thoughts to gain control of our minds. Having too much time allows our brains to create believable stories like Today is going to suck, everyone will be judging me as usual.

    I first thought about telling John to listen to some positive music like I used to. However, if Im going to be truthfully honest, doing this never brought me much comfort. I was still just trying to make myself feel better with no real meaningful positive inputs. Positive music can make you feel more happy in bursts, but when you press the off button, you can go back into a slump.

    Instead, I advised John to do something that many people dont do, that I believe they must do, especially in these pockets of time that we all have in our days. To stave off the anxiety beast, I told John to start reading books about self development and self improvement. I told him if he can, go as far as listening to self improvement podcasts too.

    I didnt start getting into self development until I was in my twenties and wished Id started younger. Reading about self development gives you a fresh and different perspective of yourself, and your life. Not only is it motivating to hear other peoples advice, you gain the knowledge that will not only help you in school, but afterwards too, throughout the rest of your life.

    Treatment For Childhood Anxiety Disorders

    Stress In School

    If you suspect your child has a disorder, the first step is to see a trained therapist who will take a full history, talk with and ask questions of the parents, family members, and the child about the fears and behavior. The therapist can diagnosis the childs specific anxiety disorder based on the information collected through these interviews.

    Also Check: Is Lexapro Good For Anxiety

    When Stress Becomes A Problem

    As a high school student, you undeniably have a lot going on. Schoolwork and studying take up time, especially for challenging academic classes. Your after-school hours are likely packed with extracurricular activities. Add in a part-time job, a social life, and spending time with your family, and youre potentially facing a very busy schedule.

    College planning can also take up a lot of time and effort while youre in high school. As weve discussed before in CollegeVine blog posts like Is Freshman Year Too Early to Start College Planning?, its wise to start preparing for college early and to do thorough research. However, if youre applying to competitive colleges, that process can introduce additional stress as you contemplate how your high school record will look to admissions committees.

    Its no wonder, then, that many high school students feel stressed. To a certain extent, this is normal and expected everyone experiences stress, and many challenging and valuable experiences will also be unavoidably stressful. Stress can often be part of the experience of growth, and its not something you can or should totally avoid.

    Tips To Reduce School Anxiety

    Tears, screaming, kids running for the dooryup, its the beginning of a new school year!

    So what can you do to reduce school anxiety and help your students transition more smoothly into the new school year?

    To answer this question I am borrowing from the Circle of Courage philosophy I used when I worked at Whaley Childrens Center. Children in the foster care system tend to go through many transitions and the Circle of Courage framework helps reduce anxiety and ease the transition process.

    You can see how I use the framework from The Circle of Courage below. If you want to know more about The Circle of Courage click here.

    Sense of Belonging: Building rapport

    Student Interest Inventory: Kids go nuts when I talk about Creepers and Steve from Minecraft. Dont even get me going about my extensive knowledge of all things Lego, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings. Ive also been known to bust out origami and friendship bracelet knots from time to time. These hooks only work with the right audience

    How I Feel About School Survey: Click the link or the image below to download the free How I Feel About School Survey

    3 Wishes: Anxiety tends to come from feeling powerless. Allowing students to express their wishes helps them feel empowered and provides insight into their thought process.

    Sharing Circle: Sharing favorites, such as hobbies, books, and animals, can help develop connections with other students and the teacher.

    Sense of Independence

    Examples:

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    What Is An Anxiety Disorder

    Severity of symptoms and a persons ability to cope separate everyday worries or anxious moments from anxiety disorders. National surveys estimate nearly one in five Americans over 18, and one in three teens ages 13 to 18, had an anxiety disorder during the past year.

    If anxiety is persistent, excessive, or routinely triggered by situations that arent an actual threat, tell your doctor, who can discuss treatment options or refer you to an experienced mental health professional.

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