Here we are. It is August again and that can only mean the 3 best or worst words of the year.
BACK TO SCHOOL!
I am going to make a sweeping assumption here and figure that every single one of us is experiencing the back to school emotions drastically differently this year. Beginning a new school year whether as a student, teacher, parent, or any other role, brings about many typical emotions such as excitement, anxiety, freedom, or dread. With the craziness that is 2020, we are entering an unprecedented year with navigating COVID-19, online schooling and the multitude of complications that are coming with it. Throughout the month of August, we will address and provide support to some of the many concerns that are arising for everyone who is preparing for a new school year full of unknowns. To get started, here are 5 tips to help you process, sort, and manage the many questions and concerns that you may have as we enter this stressful time of the year.
1. Take a Deep Breath
Let’s be real. We all have about a million thoughts in our head as we try to wrap our minds around the next year. While each one of you have your own unique circumstances to navigate, I know that it feels incredibly overwhelming. Perhaps you are thinking that it is too much or just overall impossible to handle. Take a seat. Take a breath. Let yourself clear your mind for a minute. When too many thoughts and worries are taking over our minds, it is just about impossible to sort anything through. Take another breath, we are going to get through this together.
2. Write things down by priority:
Now that you have taken a breath, it is time to brain dump. Start jotting down those concerns, questions, and thoughts that you are having. One method is to sort them by priority. There are certainly some concerns that may need to be addressed sooner, such as logistics of working from home while having classes online, having care for your children, determining your class schedule and responsibilities. Other areas do not need to be addressed right now. Let that thought in your back of your mind of “how am I going to handle this if next semester is the same way” go free. We are not there yet. That worry can be addressed when the time comes. Now that these things are on paper, let your brain be free of those thoughts and focus on the priorities.
3. Speak up for yourself and your family:
You have the right to advocate for your needs and the needs of your family. You know the needs, and limitations of what you all can handle especially during this time. Speaking up for yourself can occur in areas such as saying no to additional commitments, setting realistic expectations for yourself and for you family, or setting aside the time to engage with friends and family (under safe circumstances). What may have been easy or practical for you to do last year, may not apply under these circumstances. Determine what is feasible for you, and set those boundaries with yourself and with others.
4. Take time for yourself and your own physical and mental needs:
I can hear the thought from here… how can adding another thing to my list possibly help! I hear you, setting aside you time is not always as glamorous or easy as it sounds. But, it is vital. An analogy that I use a lot with clients is thinking of self-care like a glass of water. If you are the glass, and the water is life’s responsibilities and stressors, there is only enough that you can hold before over-flowing. Taking care of your mind and body is like emptying out the water and strengthening the glass to make room for what is next. Take a walk, schedule alone time, or engage in other activities that are revitalizing for you.
5. Seek out support:
You are not expected to be able to handle this all on your own. Whether you are a parent, teacher, student, or fulfilling any other role, you need the support of others. Take the time and opportunity to reach out to your friends and family or take the opportunity to begin working with a mental health professional to help support you and your family during this unprecedented time.