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Coping with anxiety about going back to school

After so long off school, it is completely natural to feel anxious about returning. Two of our bloggers share their worries and what's helping them cope.

Fatimah, 17:

Six months ago, I would never have thought that I would be feeling anxious about going back to school, but I am and I can’t help but think: are we ever going to go back to how school used to be? I don’t want my last year of school to be filled with negativity.

On top of these worries, we’ve had to do so much work by ourselves and it’s hard trying to catch up – I worry that I’m behind. I feel stressed, exhausted and anxious but I know that it’s best to talk about these feelings.

I don’t want my last year of school to be filled with negativity.
Fatimah

Kerry, 16:

Having spent so much time out of school and being at home during lockdown, I have found it quite difficult trying to calm my nerves when going out. My anxiety seems to switch between focusing on the coronavirus and worrying about the challenges of going back to school, especially given that I’m stepping up to A-levels and I don’t quite know what to expect.

Worries about returning

Fatimah:

I just have so many questions about what school will be like when we return. Am I going to be able to hug my friends in the common room? Can I go to a teacher for advice without being told continuously that I need to stay two metres away? Will I ever be allowed to have an assembly with all my peers again? Will we be able to laugh next to one another in class?

It won’t be the same, and I’m scared that the last year of my 15 years of education will just end in sadness.

It won’t be the same, and I’m scared that the last year of my 15 years of education will just end in sadness.
Fatimah

What's helping us to cope

Kerry:

Thankfully, I plan on returning to the same school that I went to for secondary school, and I find comfort in knowing that I’m returning to a familiar place. However it can still be very difficult to ignore my concerns over whether I’ll be able to keep up with the workload.

My main solution to this has been trying to prepare myself as much as possible. Buying the equipment and going through the preparation homework tasks has helped me get back into the mindset of doing schoolwork and also gives me a little insight into what to expect when school starts back up. I have also found it very useful to watch videos made by students that have already completed year 12 with their tips on how to do your best in sixth form.

My main worry however is that I’ll struggle with going out of my comfort zone and being around lots of people. For coping with this, my parents have been amazing. Even just going out with my friends can be a challenge at the moment, but we have found that little and often is the best way to make progress and readjust to being in public. Going into a shop, ordering in a restaurant - these are little things that can be very overwhelming for someone with anxiety.

Even just going out with my friends can be a challenge at the moment, but we have found that little and often is the best way to make progress and readjust to being in public.
Kerry

Fatimah:

I urge anyone feeling anxious about returning to school, or just about Covid-19 in general, to reach out for help. It’s really taken a weight off my shoulder knowing that it’s not just me feeling like this - there are lots of others. Using mental health resources like YoungMinds reminds me that I’m not the only one suffering from anxiety over the uncertainty around returning back to school.

With time, things get easier. A few months ago I was certain that I would never go back to school and now slowly I am getting used to the idea that school is reopening and that I will hopefully go back one day. Of course I’m scared, but with courage and support from others I’ll get there and so will you.

Of course I’m scared, but with courage and support from others I’ll get there and so will you.
Fatimah

Focusing on the positives

Kerry:

I am lucky enough to be someone that really enjoys school, and while the unknowns about this next term can be scary, it is very important to keep in mind how good it will be to return to some kind of normality.

I have missed my friends and seeing people and I know that getting back into a routine is always going to have a positive impact on my mental health. It can be very easy at the moment to let all of the bad things surrounding us cloud our optimism, but it is still there, and focusing on the positives can really help.

This is new for everyone, and new doesn’t have to mean bad.
Kerry

I know that every situation is different. Whether you’re waiting for exam results, starting a new school or returning back to the same situation, going back to school can be daunting, but it will be OK. This is new for everyone, and new doesn’t have to mean bad. I hope you all settle back in smoothly! Good luck everybody!

Where to get help

For more information, tips on looking after yourself, and suggestions on where to get support, have a look at our find help page.

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