If you are returning to school, you likely are asking yourself many questions to prepare for what this new year may bring. Common questions include what your teachers will be like and how much homework you’ll get, if you will like your classes and if they will be hard or easy, what friends will be in your classes, where will your locker will be located, how involved you will be and what activities will you join, what it will be like without last years’ senior class?
Returning to school can be a strange experience indeed, captivated by the changes as you walk the hallways. You may even do a double-take as some kids have grown taller, or wider, or thinner; boys entering manhood as they wear mustaches/ beards and girls turning into young ladies, with make-up and swanky hair styles; those changing their garb style with shabbier, more suggestive or cosmopolitan dress. After a couple days, you realize some have changed their character, like overcoming shyness and being outgoing, or taking up partying and risking so much. Some may just seem more mature. As you take in all of these changes, how are you different? What do your school mates say about you? And, as you ask yourself how school will be different this year, how much will you be able to adjust? What feelings are you having as you face this next school year?
Lots of kids are a little out of sorts during the first week or two of school. Oftentimes, students display different levels of intensity with their emotions, and usually swarmed with many kinds of emotions, be it excitement, anxiety, relief, fear, eagerness, and even depression. Some emotions can be severe, such as elongated mood swings with screaming outbursts at home in the bathroom with the door locked ; or heightened anxiety or panic reactions to a whirlwind of worries or fears, such as if there will be any rumors spreading from summer events, or if they will be teased or bullied again this year, or if they will fit in and if their friends will stay loyal or leave them, and so many more. It is so important to know that there are plenty of people that can help calm the beast of emotions. It just takes a nod to accept help from those available, be it friends, teachers, parents, or professionals.
There are some good suggestions that may help ease the transition of returning to school:
- Make sure you take care of your health by getting enough sleep, eating right and regular exercising.
- Share your concerns or fears with someone you trust. It helps make the situation feel less intense; that way, you aren’t keeping things pent up inside which usually makes the problem worse. We all need someone to care and listen to us when we are struggling.
- Try to solve the problems you are having; don’t let yourself feel stuck and unable to fix the situation. And, don’t create drama or a crisis when there isn’t one; instead, figure out ways to get to the solution. If you don’t understand an assignment, talk to the teacher. If you are having trouble with a friend, find ways to communicate better and work it out. If you made a mistake or didn’t do as well as you wished, give yourself a pat on the back for trying and learn from it. If you feel insecure, sad, or are covered with bad thoughts inside, talk to someone who can help you see what a great person you are. Being a kid is tough enough. Let someone help.
- Focus on the positives. Try to keep your worrying from becoming too gigantic. Know that who you are is just fine. Generally, you are doing the best you know how right now. Don’t let your worrying take your energy. Know that you are a good person and generally things work out in the end.
Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW, Psychotherapist
St. William’s Mental Health Services