Parents, children, and teachers tend to feel a lot of emotions and stressors when summer is coming to an end, and school is about to begin.
Parents are likely thinking about adjusting their schedules; students are likely thinking about seeing their friends AND having their summer freedom aborted; but teachers are likely stressing the most about getting ready for a new school year.
Psychologist Gail Kinman offers advice on how to reduce stress and prepare for the new school year. Among other suggestions, she advises becoming in touch with your feelings, listening to your body, doing a bit of planning, and getting extra rest.
Researching advice from psychologists and teachers, five top tips emerged for relieving “back-to-school” stress. They are as follows:
- Practice self-care. Get in the habit of taking care of yourself so that when the onslaught happens, you are already in the habit of taking some time for yourself. Remember the flight attendants’ instructions: “Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting the person next to you.” If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t have the energy to take care of anyone else, particularly a room full of students!
- Meditate and/or pray. There are multitudes of studies showing that meditation and prayer lower According to a University of Pennsylvania research study, just 30 minutes of daily meditation improves the ability to prioritize and manage tasks and goals, re-focus attention and stay alert to the environment. Even 5 minutes helps. Close your eyes for 5 minutes and breathe deeply to get back on track.
- Be prepared. Just a little bit of preparation can reduce your stress before it even starts to build up. Spend a little time organizing yourself before school starts and you will likely feel more relaxed. Make a list of what you want to do, then prioritize the items on your list. Don’t try to do everything at once. Feel free to cross off a few things on your list. Accomplishing the top few items can relieve a lot of anxiety.
- Use your mind. Take a few minutes to visualize yourself making a positive impact on your students. It is amazing how much this little practice can change your mindset and reduce stress.
- Get moving! Studies show that exercise reduces stress and releases endorphins. When you think you are too busy to exercise, it is often the times you need it most. It doesn’t have to be a full workout – just a quick walk or some stretches will do the trick. Yoga is also highly recommended.
Summer and school breaks are great times to work on professional development classes. Flexible, online classes can be helpful for busy teachers.
So, take some deep breaths, and welcome the start of the school year!
If you have some good tips for reducing back-to-school anxiety, please comment below.