You have to have been living under a rock if you haven’t seen all the back to school sales and queues in the shops! Everyone is literally flocking to stores that have stationery, bags, shoes and all that amazing stuff. People may be excited about going back to school, but there will be others who will be incredibly anxious. It could be because they’re starting secondary school and are terrified of all the older kids or because the idea of being around so many people causes awful society anxiety. If this is you…take a minute to breathe in 4, hold for 4 and breathe slowly out for 4.
Okay…you might not be feeling calm but remember:
Recent research suggests that as many as 1 in 6 young people will experience an anxiety condition at some point in their lives, this means that up to 5 people in your class may be living with anxiety, whether that be OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), social anxiety and shyness, exam stress, worry or panic attacks. (Anxiety UK)
You’re not the only one who is suffering with this anxiety. You may not have ever suffered from this before and don’t worry, there is so much help you can get in and out of school. That’s why I want to help you even a teeny bit to ease some of this anxiety and help you find some of that back to school excitement.
Do you see Hermione there?
She might be a fictional character but she was suffering a lot of school anxiety. She was starting a brand new school she had read all about and, since she had been bullied at her old muggle school, she was anxious that she would fail at Hogwarts. You could be feeling this too! New school, new people, new teachers…new new new! It sounds terrifying but there are ways to overcome a few of those little anxiety triggers.
I spoke to a real-life teacher (I know!! They have lives out of school?!) called @SianHdkn who teaches English and she gave some advice to any of you are stressing out:
1) Try to plan ahead – It sounds obvious but often schools will give you new timetables before the six weeks holidays (Depending on the school) If the thought of new teachers or being in a new class makes you feel anxious, try to get to know as much as possible beforehand if your school can accommodate that. I teach English, so try and ask your teachers what texts you’ll be studying and for other subjects, ask teachers if they can give you an overview of topics you’ll study in the next year.
2) Find your support – Know the teachers that can support you, make yourself known to your Head of Year/Learning Manager/whatever support you have access to. Please, PLEASE as a Teacher I implore you, we are here to help, we’re here to support you as much as we physically can. What you need to do for us is let us know. It’s not a sigh of weakness, as a classroom teacher I’m not going to advertise it to the class, but what I can do is accommodate to you – Where we put you in the seating plan, do things like random names make you anxious so we can avoid that, how we direct questioning.
3) Again, you’ve probably heard it before but breathe. Maybe find a bit of a safe space for yourself for times like dinner time when you just need a break. I like to think that my classes are well behaved, but on the odd occasion it gets too rowdy, I have students who really struggle to be able to focus and they sometimes just need a minute to breathe through it. Focus on something in the classroom and just breathe through it.
Loved getting the POV from an actual teacher because I think, if we can break down the barriers and idea that you can’t approach a teacher, more will hopefully come forward and admit to their anxiety! There’s nothing to be ashamed about and you’d be surprised to hear that teachers are more than likely battling mental health themselves.
I thought I would get some tips from someone still at school and that was from my friend, Grace! I’m so happy that she shared a teeny bit of her story and some tips for anyone else going back to school:
So a little backstory . I had bad separation anxiety and was claustrophobic. I missed about a year of school from it.
Tips I found that worked: If you are unable to sit in a class full of people you can try ask the school for a small room on your own or with a few others in the same boat. Here you can catch up on your work and still have a school environment.
Allow yourself to take breaks. I had a pass that allowed me to leave class whenever I needed to.
If you’re struggling to get into classes take it one or even half a class at a time or even try staying in for lunch first.
Know your limits. There is no point in over working yourself…that just leads to more stress.
Take breaks and reward yourself.
Every school is different and anxiety affects so many children and young people from primary to secondary. Don’t be a worrier…be a warrior! You can do this and, once you get yourself into a routine, hopefully some of the anxiety will ease.
Oh, and before you head off, here are some really helpful people who you can talk to:
- No Panic (They also have a 24 hour helpline if you’re having a panic attack – 01952 680835)
- Childline (if you’re under 19: you can call, email or chat online and it doesn’t matter if the problem is big/small)
- The Mix (similar service to Childline but it goes up to 25!)