School is back in session, and for many people this year, the back-to-school jitters have developed into full-fledged back-to-school anxiety. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned everyone’s world upside down over the last year and a half. For many, this is the first semester schools are having in-person classes since it all began; creating worries for many of us about the spread of new COVID variants – and that doesn’t even include navigating a world that seems to be changing at a rapid pace both inside and outside of the classroom. Whether you’re a parent taking your child to their first day of kindergarten, a teacher prepping for a class in our “new normal” or a college freshman starting your first semester of classes, the list of stressors seems to go on and on.
But, just wait a second, before your mind starts kicking into full-throttle racing through all of your own back-to-school worries -- take some time for yourself. Kick back, relax, and read through these 5 ways to de-stress and reduce back-to-school anxiety:
- Why are you feeling stressed? Identify and validate your feelings:
Identifying your feelings is the first step towards coping with stress. Ask yourself what feelings are the strongest – yep, you can feel more than one feeling at the same time -- and think about when you noticed these feelings first coming up. Then, take inventory of your day, reflect on what you did, what you thought about and who you talked to, to help identify what could have triggered your anxious feelings.
Sometimes it helps to journal, when you write out how your day went it can help you reflect on the thoughts and emotions you experienced throughout the day. Once you’ve identified your feelings and potential their root causes, reflect on your feelings and validate them. Treat yourself how you would treat a friend or family member if they were confiding with you about their emotions. Be patient, open-minded and kind. Your feelings are natural, you can’t force yourself to feel a certain way, so don’t try to. Sit with your emotions and comfort yourself the way a loving parent would comfort a child.
- What are you grateful for? Practice gratitude-
Now, this isn’t to be confused with toxic positivity. Practicing gratitude isn’t about ignoring, minimizing or invalidating your feelings. It’s about taking inventory of your life and acknowledging the things that do bring you joy. Practicing gratitude can be done in a variety of ways. You could reflect on difficult times in your past and think of how far you’ve come since then, or just try to be present with yourself, look around and identify a few small things that bring you joy, like your dog quietly snoring as they sleep on the sofa next to you, or the crisp, refreshing breeze you feel through your cracked open window. It may sound silly but it’s been scientifically proven that practicing gratitude regularly reduces stress, builds stronger social relationships and can even strengthen your immune system.
- Do you have a daily routine? Create and follow a routine-
This one might sound simple but, let’s be real, a lot of our daily routines are completely out of whack, or no longer exist at all thanks to the pandemic. Though it’s good to have a little flexibility in your daily routine, having a solid structure to abide by has also been proven to reduce stress and increase focus. Start by understanding your natural rhythms. When are you most productive? When do you feel the most creative? Once you’ve figured that out, align your daily routine and tasks with your natural rhythms in mind.
- Do you practice self-care? Make time for yourself-
Carving out time for yourself every day is essential for a stress-reducing daily routine. That could mean reading a chapter in a new book or enjoying in a warm bath followed by a deep tissue massage with the NFORCE. No matter what you do, just make sure it’s something that brings you joy. Similar to our previous tips, making time for yourself has also been scientifically proven to boost self-esteem, spark creativity and heighten your emotional intelligence.
- Feeling tense? Find healthy ways to release tension-
Obviously this tip can go in a lot of different directions depending on who you are. We’ll stick with one of the most common and effective ways to release tension: Exercise. And, no, you don’t have to be a Peloton pro or a CrossFit enthusiast. You can literally just go on a walk around your neighborhood for 20 minutes or create a Spotify playlist of your favorite dancing songs and let loose in your living room. Just be sure to add in a recovery routine to prevent injuries, increase flexibility and prolong your physical health. Our suite of performance and recovery products are extremely effective, customizable and perfect for people on the go. In fact, some of our products have even been recommended by Good Housekeeping’s health and fitness experts.
Things may seem out of control in the world right now and we totally get how that creates anxiety. Just remember, we only have control of ourselves, so whether you’re heading back to school, or you’re parenting a child who is back in school, try following some of these helpful tips to help reduce your back-to-school anxiety. Remember: You always have a choice, so choose to live with joie.