5 Ways to Cope with Back-to-School Anxiety

Anxious Student at Laptop

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Krista Abbott, a PTK member at Delaware Technical Community College in Delaware and a 2020 New Century Workforce Pathway Scholar.

Anxiety is high. Many feel stressed about returning to school due to the ongoing pandemic; some may be worried about how they will care for their dependents or juggle all of their obligations.

With all the uncertainty, it’s likely that you are experiencing a lot of stress or even feel overwhelmed. I’m here to tell you, you are not alone. Your feelings are valid, but you do not have to let anxiety win. There are ways for you to take control of your life to overcome stress.

Krista Abbott

As someone who struggles with anxiety, I took it upon myself to start taking accountability for my own mind and take control of my outcomes. About two years ago, I began researching and reaching out to counselors and psychiatrists for ways to cope with stress, anxiety, and just being overwhelmed in general. I learned a few tips and techniques to get myself in a more positive, productive headspace to maximize my full potential.

At that time, I was in a fast-paced customer service phone position, where the environment had shifted very negatively because of the amount of stress the employees were under. After seeing the shift in my performance, my employer, Discover Financial Services, asked me to create weekly tips and challenges to help others cope with the stress of the role and shift their mentalities of the job to start each day with a positive attitude.

These are my favorite tips for coping with stress and anxiety that can be applicable to any life circumstance, including college.

1. Make a To-Do List. Make a list of everything that you need to get done, even small tasks like eating lunch or washing your face. Set your priorities and try to work on those first.

Pro Tip — When you are really overwhelmed, a good technique is to start with some easy tasks first that will take little-to-no time. Doing this will instantly alleviate some of your stress and get you feeling more motivated to continue working on your tasks.

2. Give yourself a break. Grab a snack or a drink, watch an episode of your favorite TV show, or cuddle with your pet. This can look like whatever you want it to — just do something that relaxes you and makes you happy. Allow time to decompress and enjoy yourself for a few moments so you can return to your work with a fresh mindset.

3. Get yourself moving. Go for a walk, do one of your favorite workouts, do some yoga, just do something! Getting your body moving will boost those endorphins, which are your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. If your brain is feeling good, you will be less stressed and more likely to be productive.

4. Never stop rewarding yourself. Make sure you are rewarding yourself when you reach a goal. It’s easy to reach a goal then immediately set a new one; but if happiness is on the other side of success, your brain never quite gets there. Whether the reward is a pedicure, treating yourself to a new outfit or some ice cream, or enjoying your favorites hobbies like sports, video games, skin care, whatever you want — just make sure you’re acknowledging that you have accomplished something. This will motivate you to keep going. The tiniest wins matter to your mental health.

5. Take care of yourself. This includes all my previous tips and so much more. Try to eat as healthy as you can, get enough sleep, keep up with your personal hygiene, and most importantly, take care of your mental health. Do some breathing exercises, meditate, practice manifestation, journal, or talk to a friend, a loved one, or even a therapist. Sometimes life gets to be a bit overwhelming, but it’s ok. Be kind to yourself — you are creating the life you want, and you are capable of anything you set your mind to.

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