Back to School anxiety

After the long, often lazy, summer break it can be daunting planning and waiting for the new academic year to begin. Whether as a parent, child, young adult or teacher the year ahead starts in September. Anxieties can begin to mount as the date nears. Some may look forward to friends they’ve missed, more independence, routine and learning. Whilst others may already be thinking about the expectations that they, and others, will want of them. This may be real or imagined but our brains and bodies can’t tell the difference.

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When stressed we go into flight, fight or flop mode. We’ve heard of the first two but the third came into my awareness reading an article on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS or ME). Having suffered from it myself, many years ago now, I was intrigued by what I read. Imagine you’re a defenceless creature who cannot possibly out run or fight a tiger. What do you do? Play dead of course. You flop. It’s a defence mechanism, which often works. So whilst we may see our teen lying in bed and think they’re so laid back, it’s worth checking in with them. Are they actually avoiding their feelings through oversleeping? It’s possible.

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Another issue is sleep and the likelihood of everyone being out of a routine. Firstly screens have become a common part of modern life for every age group and overuse is detrimental to our health. You may have heard that blue light disrupts the sleep hormone Melatonin, but do you know it also affects Mitochondria? So not only does this explain why it’s hard to get to sleep at night, as you’re tired but wired. It also explains the lack of energy throughout the day. We need sunlight, not blue light.

Some great ways to hack this issue is to download Iris (or f.lux) onto your computer and phone. The settings that are built in are not enough. Plus get some blue light blocking glasses to wear a couple of hours before bed. Even LED light affects our brain at night.

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If your child is starting a new school they might be anxious about making new friends. Even going back to the same friendship group can be tricky if they haven’t had contact over the summer months, or there’s been any tension, arguments and even bullying. Ask your child open ended questions like ‘what friends are you looking forward to seeing?’ or ‘have you spoken to anyone in your class over summer?’. Observe their response so you notice body language and not just words.

For young adults starting university they could join online groups to make new friends on their course before they arrive. The unknown is the scary part, so the more they can imagine themselves there the better. Do you know the new teacher? Young children usually love their teachers and you could talk about all the fun possibilites of a fresh start. New books, pencils, uniform. Let them choose what they can themselves, whatever their age. Sometimes as parents its hard to let go and see your child becoming more independent and pulling away from you. Remind yourself what a good thing that is and take a deep breath, as it’s only going to continue. You could even talk about a time you overcame your nerves when you started something new or unknown. What did you do to calm yourself?

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Some great ways to create calm (for the whole family) are deep breathing, tapping (EFT or TFT), hypnotherapy, meditation, protein rich foods, water (inside and out), essential oils, yoga and other forms of exercise, a good nights sleep and getting into a routine nice and gently. Get favourite breakfast foods in. Plan clothes and pack bags the night before. Visualise a great day in the life of you and your next steps!

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