Back-to-School Survival Guide: How to curb anxiety and avoid burnout
Alarms are getting reset, backpacks are getting stuffed, and the smell of cafeteria food is wafting through the air. That can only mean one thing.
It’s time to go back to school.
While some students look forward to cracking open a new academic planner, it’s perfectly normal to feel a little, well, weird at the start of a new school year.
That carefree, light-and-breezy summertime vibe is being traded in for pencil cases and pop quizzes. It’s understandable to feel anxious as your schedule starts filling up with a fresh avalanche of projects, commitments, and due dates. Maybe you’ve got some courses this semester that you’re not really looking forward to, or you don’t have the same lunch period as your friends.
We get it.
If you’re feeling anxious about the new school year, it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad student — and it certainly doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It just means you’ll want to be conscious of your own wellbeing as you navigate whatever this semester brings.
And you don’t have to figure that out alone! We’ve got some tried-and-true tips to help you ease anxiety, avoid overwhelm, and set yourself up for success this year.
Make a vision board
Maybe it sounds strange, but a vision board can actually be very powerful. Print or cut out pictures and make a collage that speaks to your goals for the year (or even just the semester). Put it in your room or on your desk so that you see it every day; it’ll remind you what you’re working towards, what you care about, and how you want to feel. Plus, it’s a great rainy day project that gives your screen time tracker a break!
We’ve talked about the importance of planning for certain types of studiers, but really, everyone can benefit. Whether it’s time blocking, color-coded sticky notes, or a daily to-do list in your notes app, taking a few moments to organize your tasks and thoughts will actually take some pressure off during the day. When you’re not constantly wondering what comes next (or what you forgot about), you can confidently focus on being present with one thing at a time. If you don’t have a student portal that does it already, we recommend mapping out due dates as soon as you get a syllabus — you have a little more time to focus on organizing before all the homework and tests start in the coming weeks!
Prep your toolkit
Is it just us, or is school a little more bearable when you’re writing with your favorite pen in an appropriately labeled notebook? Make your back-to-school budget early so you can shop the sales and get what you need. Have everything labeled and ready in your backpack the night before so that you’re not adding stress to your morning and scrambling to find things. Consider bringing a journal with you to help re-center during quiet study halls or lunch. Don’t forget to prep your digital supplies, too: productivity apps, school portals, and Photomath, of course!
Try being a social butterfly
Humans are social creatures, so face-to-face time is important! If you’re not currently involved in any extracurriculars, try expanding your comfort zone this year. Find a club or sport you’re interested in and just join! You don’t need to be perfect at something to enjoy it, so give yourself some grace and sign up for something that will bring you joy. You might even make some lifelong friends that way.
Take care of yourself (for real)
Yes, self care like face masks and manicures are fun, but don’t forget about all the un-glamorous ways you can bolster your wellbeing throughout the school year: getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, setting boundaries, and giving yourself grace when you’re taking on new challenges. Your mental health is important. Remember that learning isn’t linear, and mistakes are part of progress.
Ask for help
It’s okay to lean on people. Your friends, family, teachers, counselors, and coaches are all willing to help if you find yourself struggling. Talk to them, and see if there’s an area of support missing, like a tutor or classmate. Motivating yourself is important, but it’s also important to have a reliable support system for when you need a little extra help. Form a study group, practice with an older sibling, or even talk to a friend’s parent who might be able to help. You don’t have to do everything alone.
The goal of these tips isn’t to pressure you into being the perfect student this year — it’s to help you find ways to manage your stress and workload so that you can feel like the best version of *you*. When you’re prepared academically and emotionally, your anxiety has a little less ground to stand on. We know you can conquer whatever comes your way, so now it’s time for you to believe it, too!