How to Combat Back to School Anxiety

A new school year will be starting soon if it hasn’t already, and if you’re nervous, you’re completely normal! Many teenagers have some jitters before heading back to school. The good news is that within a few weeks, your anxiety should wear off. The even better news is that there are some steps you can take to help ease your mind even sooner. Check out these tips on conquering back to school anxiety ASAP.


Identify What You’re Worried About

Do you feel an ache in the pit of your stomach or does your heart pick up speed when you think about going to school? Think about what, specifically, is bothering you. A vague sense of dread can be disconcerting because your brain doesn’t know if you’re worried about something rational or irrational. Mentally go through the possibilities and try to determine whether you’re worried about a particular class, having a certain teacher, seeing your friends again, what you’ll wear, getting back into a routine of waking up early, or something else.

Once you determine what’s bothering you, you might feel as though your anxiety takes a nosedive! Sometimes realizing that you’re worried about something relatively minor can help you think through the issue and will allow you to forget about it for now. If it’s something more important, you’ll at least be in the position to figure out a solution.


Talk to an Adult or Peer

Once you know what is bothering you, ask a trusted adult or one of your friends to go through the problem with you. Think out loud about what the worst-case scenario would be and how you could solve the problem if it came to that.

For example, if you are concerned about getting a particular math teacher who you have heard bad things about, first think about the chances that it will happen: If there are, say, five math teachers teaching the class you’re taking, you have an 80 percent chance of not getting that teacher. If you were, however, to be placed in his or her class, what are the options? One might be to see how it goes: It is quite possible that the teacher and you will get along fine. Another option is to calmly approach the teacher if you have a problem in the class and ask for extra help. If the worst happened and you found that you could not learn math under his or her tutelage, a last-resort option could be to talk to your guidance counselor about switching classes.

Having someone else to bounce these ideas off of can help you stay calm and evaluate your situation. Also, chances are good that they will have some extra insight that you hadn’t thought of.


Consider Your Lifestyle

Anxiety always feels worse if you are overtired, hungry, dehydrated, or not getting enough physical activity. Make sure that you are taking good care of yourself. Get about nine hours of sleep each night, eat healthy meals, drink plenty of water, and exercise each day. Doing these things can help you stave off a lot of stress and anxiety and can allow you to see your situation with fresh eyes.


Make Plans With Friends

Do you have back to school anxiety about how you’ll get back into your school-year social life after not seeing your friends all summer? This is a common concern, particularly if you or your friends have been traveling, at camp, working, or otherwise not able to spend much time together. Logically, you probably know that you will all be able to pick up where you left off, but you still might feel some stress. If this sounds familiar, try to make plans with at least a couple of your friends before school begins. Having fun together for a few hours will help you look forward to being with them every day.

If your back to school anxiety stems from not knowing anyone or having had a lonely year last year, sit down and think about which activities you can join that will help you meet new people and make a few new friends. Look at your school’s website to see what extracurricular activities are available: You might find kindred spirits on a sports team, on the yearbook staff, backstage during a school play, at a language club, or in an academic club. Choose something that suits your personality!


Combating Back to School Anxiety With Your Routine

Are you concerned about switching your routine back to early morning wakeups and bedtimes? If so, begin making changes now. You can start getting up 15 minutes earlier each morning until you are easily waking up at the time needed to catch the bus or carpool. Also, gradually move your bedtime to earlier in the evening. This will help you stay on track once school starts and you’ll have the benefit of not feeling exhausted the first few days or weeks and will lesson your back to school anxiety.


Take a Tour of a New School

Is switching schools giving you back to school anxiety? This can be a big stressor: You might worry about not knowing how to find your classes or the cafeteria and you also might be concerned about not knowing anyone. Most schools have an orientation available to new students; if yours does, sign up and attend. You’ll meet some of your classmates and will know where the math wing and locker room is. If not, find out if you can go to the school a few days before the first day to give yourself a tour and check out the campus.



As you get older, you will have a lot more new experiences that you might feel nervous about. Whether it’s the first day of college, the first day at a new job, or your first day moving to a new city, you’ll already have some experience with getting over jitters, which makes this a great learning and growing experience. Talk to your parents if you are very nervous so they can help you feel calmer. If you’re having the symptoms of severe anxiety or panic attacks, make an appointment with your doctor to talk about treatment. For mild anxiety, however, following the steps above should help.