Reducing Back To School Stress: For Parents And College Students

Reducing Back To School Stress: For Parents And College Students

How to reduce those back to school jitters

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Many kids (and parents) are feeling mounting anxiety over the approach of a new school year. From hectic mornings to last-minute projects, the many activities that make up the busy schedules of the school year can be tough on both parents and students, causing at times intense stress and anxiety. If you're in college or starting college as a freshman, you'll need to learn how to adjust on your own. Here are five ways you can lessen stress, both as a family and on your own as you enter the stages of young adulthood:

Start Early to Prevent Sleep Loss or Insomnia

Over the summer, most families take their cues from the sun and stay up later. While it may be tempting to keep the late-night fun going up until the end, starting your school routine a few weeks early can help ease the transition back to school. Two to three weeks before the advent of school, begin going to bed and getting up earlier and try to eat on a more regular schedule as well. This advice isn't just for little kids; teens and adults need quality sleep for proper functioning as well and getting your schedule straight now will help prevent insomnia or sleep deprivation when school starts. Good rest can help your child better manage stress on the first day.

Get to School Early

While we're on the topic of starting early, it's a good idea to visit or arrive on campus a week or so before the first day. Note to parents: for kids who are going to be first-timers for kindergarten, first grade, middle school or even high school, this can help them feel more comfortable with the new place and get a better idea of where to go once they're there. Even for returning students, it doesn't hurt to know where the classroom is, say hello to whatever staff is there getting ready and start getting excited about going back.

For college students, this will help students feel a whole lot more comfortable before the start of school, and help ease back to school jitters. Get to school a week and change before orientation or the start of classes to feel more confident about going back to school. You'll be surprised at how much better and more settled in it'll make you feel to just get to campus a few days before everyone else does.

Ask Around

If you're a parent with young children, it's a good idea to ensure that there's at least one friend in the class or classes your child will be attending. If classes are assigned without your input, talk to other parents and try to find out who your child will be sharing a class with ahead of time, and let them know. Knowing who is in their class will give them something else to look forward to, and remind them of what they enjoy about school. If your child is entering kindergarten or first grade, it might be a good idea to have a playdate with one of the children who will be in their class a week before school starts to help them feel more comfortable and get more excited about seeing their friends again in school. If you're new to the area or don't know anyone, try checking out the school's social media pages to find other parents and kids.

If you're a freshman just starting out at college, reach out to the couple of people that you've met before getting to campus. Ask around and see if they're interested in the same subjects as you, and see if they're taking any of the introductory classes you are because they're bound to be in at least one similar freshman intro-class as you.

If you're a returning college student, you've been through this process at least once before, and you basically know the drill. Even though you're familiar with the process, though, there's always some anxiety revolving around classes and not knowing exactly who's in them. In short: ask around. You know who's pursuing what at this point, and I can promise you that you'll know at least one person in your classes, or if not in your exact class, then in another section with the same professor. You'll be just fine! You're a pro already, after all.

Get Ready

For parents, back to school shopping is something essential for your child or children to be eased back into school. Back to school shopping may help your child get excited about the new school year. If your child really couldn't care less about shopping, you can make it quick and painless, but for kids who relish the annual decisions of which clothes, backpacks, and other supplies to choose, it can be an easy way to ease your child into the new year.

Along these lines, have fun preparing your child's study area. It's important to that your child has a comfortable, quiet place to study. You may also want to get your routines ready; as you get back onto an earlier schedule, have your kids start laying out their clothes the night before, keeping their shoes by the door and get back into other morning habits that help you get out the door with less hassle. This can help refine your routine and make the back to school transition easier.

For college kids, get your stuff BEFORE classes. Seriously. Barnes and Noble can only supply so much to you when every single student waits until the first or second day of classes to get all of the standards back to school notebooks and pencils.

Talk to One Another

Parents: one of the best ways to relieve back to school anxiety and prepare for the coming year is to simply talk to your child about what he or she may be feeling. When the subject of school comes up, let your child tell you what's exciting about school as well as what may be a little anxiety-provoking. If your child expresses some negativity about school, don't discount immediately his or her concerns; instead, focus on validating feelings. Then you can help find solutions or shift the focus to a more positive one like seeing friends, covering exciting new material and growing up. This can be an excellent time to discuss important topics like how to handle bullies, peer pressure, and other important topics. Creating open lines of communication lets your child know that you'll be available for support.

The main thing to remember in dealing with back to school jitters is to be prepared mentally and logistically. Know what to expect and be prepared, and have a plan to keep things manageable. Then follow that plan. If you show your enthusiasm for what the new school year brings, your kids are sure to pick up on it and the nervous energy will turn into excitement.

College pros: talk to yourself. You know the process already, and if you're a freshman, I can promise you, you'll have the whole college thing down in a week or less. Trust me when I say, you'll figure it out, and there's always someone at your school exactly like you. It's just a matter of time until you find your person. To all those froshes out there: good luck. To all upperclassmen: good luck, but I'm not worried about ya. To all my fellow seniors: Let's do this one last time, and do it right.

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To The Girl Who Had A Plan

A letter to the girl whose life is not going according to her plan.
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“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” - William Ernest Henley

Since we were little girls we have been asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We responded with astronauts, teachers, presidents, nurses, etc. Then we start growing up, and our plans change.

In middle school, our plans were molded based on our friends and whatever was cool at the time. Eventually, we went to high school and this question became serious, along with some others: “What are your plans for college?” “What are you going to major in?” “When do you think you’ll get married?” “Are you going to stay friends with your friends?” We are bombarded with these questions we are supposed to have answers to, so we start making plans.

Plans, like going to college with our best friends and getting a degree we’ve been dreaming about. Plans, to get married as soon as we can. We make plans for how to lose weight and get healthy. We make plans for our weddings and children.

SEE ALSO: 19 Pieces Of Advice From A Soon-To-Be 20-Year-Old

We fill our Pinterest boards with these dreams and hopes that we have, which are really great things to do, but what happens when you don’t get into that college? What happens when your best friend chooses to go somewhere else? Or, what if you don’t get the scholarship you need or the awards you thought you deserved. Maybe, the guy you thought you would marry breaks your heart. You might gain a few pounds instead of losing them. Your parents get divorced. Someone you love gets cancer. You don’t get the grades you need. You don’t make that collegiate sports team. The sorority you’re a legacy to, drops you. You didn’t get the job or internship you applied for. What happens to you when this plan doesn’t go your way?

I’ve been there.

The answer for that is “I have this hope that is an anchor for my soul.” Soon we all realize we are not the captain of our fate. We don’t have everything under control nor will we ever have control of every situation in our lives. But, there is someone who is working all things together for the good of those who love him, who has a plan and a purpose for the lives of his children. His name is Jesus. When life takes a turn you aren’t expecting, those are the times you have to cling to Him the tightest, trusting that His plan is what is best. That is easier said than done, but keep pursuing Him. I have found in my life that His plans were always better than mine, and slowly He’s revealing that to me.

The end of your plan isn’t the end of your life. There is more out there. You may not be the captain of your fate, but you can be the master of your soul. You can choose to be happy despite your circumstances. You can change directions at any point and go a different way. You can take the bad and make something beautiful out of it, if you allow God to work in your heart.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Patiently Waiting With An Impatient Heart

So, make the best of that school you did get in to. Own it. Make new friends- you may find they are better than the old ones. Apply for more scholarships, or get a job. Move on from the guy that broke your heart; he does not deserve you. God has a guy lined up for you who will love you completely. Spend all the time you can with the loved one with cancer. Pray, pray hard for healing. Study more. Apply for more jobs, or try to spend your summer serving others instead. Join a different club or get involved in other organizations on campus. Find your delight first in God and then pursue other activities that make you happy; He will give you the desires of your heart.

My friend, it is going to be OK.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Beavers Photography

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I'm Not Feelin' 22, But I'll Make The Most Of It

The reality of becoming another year older and the stress that it may bring.

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Birthdays are all about being the center of attention, - birthday wishes from friends and family, and celebrating another milestone in your life. People go out of their way to buy party favors, set up parties, and buy gifts just to make someone feel special on their birthday. However, some people dread their special day because of anxiety and depression. This past weekend was my 22ndbirthday, and although I'm usually excited for my birthday, this was the birthday I had been dreading.

Birthdays are inevitable. Once you reach past the age of 21, everything seems to go downhill, or at least I think so. Once I realized I was going to be 22 last Sunday, I realized the new responsibilities and norms that come with turning this age. I am a Junior at the University of Arizona, should be a senior, and most of my friends are younger than me. With most of my friends graduating this year at the age of 22, I can't help but feel bad that I will be graduating at the age of 23. After being at a large university for three years, I have felt "behind" because of my age and academic standing. Being the oldest of my friends brings a sense of anxiety out in me and pressure that I should be graduated by now.

Another issue I have with birthdays at this age is the expectation of certain milestones that I have not accomplished yet. With social media being such a large part of our society today, seeing so many different people on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter posting pictures of what they are doing every second of the day, it's hard not to feel bad if you are not up to par with others lives. Some people are having babies, while others are going to medical school, where do I fit in?

Although birthdays bring some sense of negativity to me, I think that they should be celebrated in a positive light. My best friend, Colleen, knew I was feeling down about my birthday and wanted to help me feel better about turning the big 2-2. She bought balloons, silly string, and letter banners just to decorate our apartment to make me feel excited about the day. She bought me the most unique presents that only a best friend would know I would have wanted. At the end of the day, we went to my favorite restaurant and with the help of Colleen, my day had turned around.

While you may catch the birthday blues at some point in your lifetime, there are ways to change your attitude on the day. You may hear from someone from the past wishing you a happy birthday that can make you smile, or receive a gift from a family or friend that you had your eye on in the store and they knew you had to have it. Don't compare yourself to others when it comes to birthday plans, live the day how you would like and spend it with the people that matter most to you.

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