It’s that time of the year again…back to school.
This year may look a little different than previous years of going to school. Some students, teachers and staff will be wearing masks. Some students may not see their friends anymore because they moved over the summer, they’re being homeschooled, or if they have the option – virtual school. Regardless of what back to school looks like for some – a lot of feelings come with returning to school; some people are excited while others may be nervous or even anxious.
What is Anxiety and why do some people have it?
Jessica Beal, a Family Link Therapist at the Youth Crisis Center describes anxiety as a feeling of excessive worry, nervousness, or being overwhelmed. Delving deeper, she says physical symptoms can include difficulty breathing, butterflies in your stomach, and some people may even experience muscle tension. Beal explains everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their life, but some may experience it more often and at a more intense level. She says genetics, environmental factors, a high-stress level, and poor coping skills can trigger anxiety, but the direct causes are different for everyone.
Overcoming your Anxiety
Beal says anxiety management starts with knowing yourself. You need to ask yourself some serious questions, such as: what worries you the most, what situations make you feel uncomfortable, and what are some negative beliefs you are carrying around with you. Beal explains anxiety is typically rooted in fear and worry. With that being said, Beal believes negative thinking patterns can allow the cycle of anxiety to continue and worsen over time.
Beal says Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a highly effective treatment for anxiety as well as learning healthy coping skills to lower your overall stress level.
Follow the “C’s”
Beal suggests for anyone anxious about the start of the new school year is to follow what she calls the “C”s.
Community – Surround yourself with your loved ones. You should want to be around people who love you, care about you, and want to see you succeed. This can be your family, friends, neighbors, or anybody else who makes a positive impact on your life.
Confidence – Believe in yourself. Beal wants to remind everyone that they have survived everything life has thrown at them so far. Even though you didn’t think you would be able to make it through some things, you have made it this far in life. That alone took resiliency and strength. You were able to adjust to whatever was going on in life and this new school year is just something we all will need to adjust to.
Caring – Take care of yourself. Beal says self-care is extremely important. You need to know how to listen to your body and know when to stop when you are over-doing it. It’s not just your body, Beal also wants you to pay attention to what your emotions are telling you as well. She also believes in developing a routine and sticking to it is important when it comes to self-care. She also wants to stress the importance of making sure you have time for yourself and you’re taking breaks when you need them and not before it’s too late and you’re already dealing with burnout.
Creativity – Find a creative outlet to channel some energy into.
This isn’t just restricted to just being creative with drawing, painting, writing, etc. Beal says it is important to have hobbies. Hobbies are necessary for some people to get their feelings out there, especially if they cannot necessarily verbalize them. If you are someone who struggles with opening up about feelings or has a hard time finding the right words to say, Beal strongly suggests looking for a creative outlet or something to channel those emotions into.
Coping Skills – Beal reveals that a good set of healthy coping skills is what is lacking the most when she meets with students. She says coping skills can be anything from practicing mindfulness to having hobbies. According to Beal, you must have something that you enjoy doing.
Youth Crisis Center’s Family Link Program
YCC’s Family Link program provides professional and compassionate short-term, outpatient counseling services to families with children ages 6-17 who are experiencing concerns that could disrupt the health and stability of the family. These services are available at no cost to residents of Baker, Clay, Duval, St. Johns and Nassau counties through appointments at the child’s school or other community locations. Click to learn more about Family Link and the 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family. All Family Link counseling sessions are confidential. To learn more about services, please call (904) 720-0007.